ESP Biography

CATHERINE ZHAO, Stanford graduate in East Asian Studies

Major: East Asian languages and Culture

College/Employer: Stanford

Year of Graduation: 2017

Picture of Catherine Zhao

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Hi, this is Catherine! I'm a graduate student studying anthropology in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. My research focus is on Asian immigrants in North America. I did my fieldwork in the Chinatown of San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, and feel very attached to the immigrants' communities there. Through the work as a research assistant in the project of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America at Stanford, I began to have a deeper understanding of how Chinese immigrants helped build California and how their achievements were downplayed by the mainstream society for over a century. I would like to share their stories and make their voices heard by my research. I'm also a big fun for theater performance and is a member of Chinese Drama Club at Stanford University.

Past Classes

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H5637: China and California in Splash Spring 2017 (Apr. 22 - 23, 2017)
Why are the roofs of the Main Quad of Stanford University red? There is a rumor that the roofs were once stained by the blood of Chinese railroad workers who helped build the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S. Since the 1850s’ Gold Rush, Chinese immigrants have long been an important part of Californian culture. Between 1865 and 1869, over 12,000 Chinese laborers were shipped to the U.S. to build the railroad, and many of them even lost their lives because of the harsh working environment. However, their contributions to California and to the U.S. were never appreciated. In fact, Chinese immigrants were discriminated against during the time of the Chinese Exclusion Act that lasted for almost sixty years, during the 1960’s before the Civil Rights Movements, and even today, especially after the election. All of this makes it important for us to reconsider the contributions of Chinese immigrants and question why a group of “model immigrants” were treated unfairly. In this course, the speaker not only tells you the stories of what contributions Chinese immigrants made to California, but also invites you to participate in a play in which you will play a Chinese immigrant in five different periods: 1850s, 1890s, 1940s, 1960s and 1990s. In this interactive play, you will learn how Chinese immigrants helped build California and also have a better understanding of their hardships.