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Dr. Busaba Yip brings Lahaina’s Chinese history to New York City Museum Symposium

By BY CINDY SCHUMACHER - | Oct 10, 2019

Dr. Busaba Yip, cultural director and docent at the Wo Hing Museum, Society Hall and Cookhouse, is on her way to the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City to present an invited talk on the history of the Chinese people in Lahaina and the State of Hawaii.

LAHAINA – Lahaina resident Dr. Busaba Yip, cultural director and docent at the Wo Hing Museum, Society Hall and Cookhouse, is on her way to New York City to present an invited talk on the history of the Chinese people who came to Hawaii.

The presentation is part of a program at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) on Oct. 14-18, 2019.

A national cultural institution preserving little-known stories in the making of America, as seen through the lens of the Chinese immigrant experience, MOCA’s collection has grown to document the changing profile of Chinese America from its humble beginnings in the 19th century to its dynamic presence today.

“The event, titled ‘Gathering: Collecting and Documenting Chinese American History,’ brings together, for the first time ever, historical artifacts from 28 Chinese American museums, historical societies and institutions from 13 states across the U.S.,” said Yip.

“These artifacts and the corresponding explanatory text unveils critical periods in American history that are often forgotten. Also included in ‘Gathering’ is MOCA’s year-long initiative to commemorate the contributions of Chinese railroad workers in the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years ago.”

“Elements of my presentation include the Chinese arrival in Hawaii and the establishment of Chinese communities, including religious and cultural practices,” said Yip.

“I also include the significance of the history of Sun Yat-sen, his Three Principles of the People and his family’s connection to Hawaii and Maui. All of these elements played a part in the history of Wo Hing.”

Yip added, “I am preparing two presentations. In the morning session, my PowerPoint will include slides and images to share our region’s history. Honoring the history of the Hawaiian Chinese in Lahaina, I will introduce Wo Hing Museum and Cookhouse and the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.”

In the afternoon, Yip will join a panel discussion on the future and long-term goals for MOCA and its members.

“I will be sharing exciting stories and challenges from the many years of working on Wo Hing’s historical research project. I will be opening up great dialogue and exploring new ideas for our future collaboration among the participating organizations. I hope to bring back many exciting stories from MOCA to share with our Lahaina communities as well,” Yip said.

Founded in 1980, MOCA is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States. It is a national home for the narratives of diverse Chinese American communities and strives to be a model among interactive museums. Through the years, MOCA has developed into a trusted community anchor and educational resource.

Today, MOCA’s diverse professional constituency includes educators, scholars and journalists, as well as artists such as designers, photographers, playwrights, filmmakers, actors and musicians, who help conceptualize, implement and participate in exhibits and programs.

“Through the museum’s initiatives and high caliber of work, Chinese American arts, culture and history are shared with pride and celebrated by all,” said Yip.

“On-site, audiences have access to innovative exhibits and culturally rich programs, including the core exhibition featuring 160 years of Chinese American history.”

Presently, Yip is finalizing her book titled “Chinese People in Hawaii and the Wo Hing Society,” recounting her in-depth historical research.

The presentation at MOCA and the upcoming book are a result of her vital work, love and connection to the West Side community and Hawaii.

She is always aiming to highlight the importance of peace among all people and nations. In fact, she is dedicated to this vision.

“It also stems from my work as a docent and researcher at Wo Hing from 2000 to 2019,” Yip said. “I have had the opportunity to put together the information for visitors who are interested in Hawaiian Chinese history and culture. I hope my work will stimulate an increased participation from people in all walks of life.

Yip concluded, “It is a privilege to bring the history of the Chinese in Lahaina and Hawaii to this event. MOCA instills a love for lifelong learning, sharpens basic skills and presents guided opportunities for deeper engagement with their education, history and contemporary community issues.

“By including Wo Hing, I hope to expand the dialogue, strengthen connections and increase collaborative work among these organizations. It is an honor to represent the Wo Hing Museum.”