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2008.041.004 Oral History Interview with Jeff Gammage

Jeff Gammage is a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the author of China Ghosts: My Daughter Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood. He and his wife Christine are the adoptive parents of two Chinese girls, Jin Yu and Zhao Gu. “We wanted them to keep their names as a reminder of their heritage and their homeland,” he says. Jeff initially did not envision becoming a father, but his wife Christine wanted children. They decided on adoption from China because at the end of the process, you could be assured that you would bring home a child. Jeff provided the Chinese government with information and they selected the child for them based on this. They received letters about their daughters, Sho Jin Yu and Zhao Gu, with some health details. The adoption process was completed after 18 months. Meeting their daughters was challenging due to the long plane ride and their unfamiliarity with Chinese culture. Jeff felt guilty adopting Jin Yu when she was two years old because she knew her surroundings and it was not easy leaving everything behind. Jeff and Christine kept the girl names to honor their heritage. Jeff strives to expose their daughters to Chinese culture, from lion dancing to kung fu. They recognize that the children will eventually make their own choices about their cultural identity. Jeff acknowledges that being a good parent is determined by their daughters and expresses deep love and joy in his role as a father. Jeff ends with a cheerful interaction between him and his daughters.

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2008.041.005 Oral History Interview with Jennifer 8. Lee

A New York native and Metro reporter for The New York Times, Jennifer 8. Lee is also the author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, a book investigating the history of Chinese food in the U.S. and around the world. “The point of my research was to make people think twice about what it means to be American. There’s a part of being an outsider in America yet being an insider,” she says. Lee was fascinated with the number 8 during middle school because of its symmetry and its meaning of prosperity in Chinese. Despite excelling in mathematics and science, Lee became a writer after serving as co-editor in chief of her high school newspaper and participating in a summer program for minority high school students to encourage them to pursue journalism. Through this summer program, she came to understand that diversity was essential to ensuring different experiences. Growing up speaking Mandarin and studying it in college, Lee has a deeper understanding of the lengths people will go to sacrifice for their families. She recognized the role of being both an outsider and an insider in America, telling stories through established institutions with a unique perspective. Lee wrote a book titled, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, on Chinese American food and its history. She realized that fortune cookies weren’t Chinese, which inspired her to explore what it means to be American. Lee ends by showing her appreciation for journalism versatility and embracing her unique Asian American identity.