Memorial Day with the Forest Hills Asian Association

Memorial Day with the Forest Hills Asian Association

A Celebration of National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Military Appreciation Month

This event was a celebration of Memorial Day as well as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The Forest Hills Asian Association’s mission is to “advocate, collaborate, and engage with the businesses, families, professionals, seniors and all residents within the community.”  By partnering with them, the Queens Memory team knew their membership would definitely show up on the day of the event with historic photos and other items from home that we could digitize for them and add to the library’s online archival collections.

Forest Hills Library, Queens, NY, United States

Our target participants for this program were adults from the local community, especially Asian Americans. This event was aimed to gather local residents to engage in community activities and to spread the idea of preserving a variety of personal narratives.

The event flyer was posted at the Forest Hills Library bulletin board and advertised through email listing by Edwin Wong. The event was open to local residents in Forest Hills and members of the Forest Hills Asian Association.

Story Share

Opening words were delivered by Forest Hills Asian Association President, Edwin Wong. There were opening words with special remarks by Michael Dunne, Major, US Army Retired, Veteran, who served in Afghanistan from 2005-2006. Because the theme of the event was Memorial Day, Major Dunne showed photographs of his journey from Queens to Afghanistan and also spoke about his experiences and stories during his deployment in Afghanistan.

Pop-up Exhibition

There was also a pop-up photography exhibit by the Asian American Photographer Laureate, Corky Lee. The main themes illustrated in his photography exhibition were identity, community activists, and diversity in New York City. Program participants voted for their favorite photographs with post-it notes. Corky shared “behind the scene” stories of the top 10 photographs with the most votes.


The library owns a traveling digitization kit, which includes a scanner, laptop computers, digital audio recorders, and cameras, assembled to support the activities of community history events like these. At the end of the event, the Queens Memory team digitized the photographs brought in by participants to help them preserve their family treasures digitally. A total of 36 items were donated to the Queens Public Library digital archives.

One of our donors from this event was Ellyn Chan Roberson, an Chinese American currently living in Forest Hills, Queens. Ellyn donated a selection of her family’s photographs to the Queens Public Library archives. Her grandfather, Arthur Chan, served in the Chinese military during WWII and later migrated to America after the war. The Chan family is also related to the Eng and the Chu family which has a long history as Chinese-Americans in the United States. Below are some of her family photographs passed down from generation to generation documenting the family’s heritage and history in the US.

The Forest Hills Asian Association is a great program partner. The event turnout was great thanks to FHAA Co-Founder Edwin Wong’s outreach efforts. Everyone enjoyed Major Dunne’s photos and stories as well as Corky Lee’s photography exhibit. Participants brought in a lot of photos and some seniors from the neighborhood were very enthusiastic in telling us their migration stories. Community history events such as this one can engage participants in preserving their family treasures while learning about each other’s culture and stories. Queens Public Library’s collaboration with a local community organization allows the Queens Memory program to collect a variety of personal stories from the local residents for long term digital preservation.

Edwin Wong is the co-founder of the Forest Hills Asian Association. He coordinated Major Michael Dunne’s remarks and Corky Lee’s pop-up photography exhibition. Other organizations such as Kettle Corn NYC, Ridgewood Savings Bank Forest Hills Branch, and the Organization of Chinese American-New York Chapter were also involved in supporting the event.

Yingwen Huang, Lori Wallach, Rosa Yen, Reshad Hai were the Queens Memory team and helped to coordinate the event and assisted participants with digitizing their materials.

This event was part of the Memories of Migration initiative, funded by an IMLS National Leadership Grant for Libraries.  Queens Public Library was one of four Model Programs across the country, responsible for working with local communities to develop inter-generational and cross-cultural dialogue through public programs. Programming in Queens focused on elderly immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China (Mandarin and Cantonese speakers).

Activity Timeline

February 6
Previous Collaboration
In celebration of Lunar New Year, Queens Memory and Forest Hills Asian Association co-hosted an event in the Forest Hill branch of the Queens Public Library. Queens Memory and FHAA kept in touch and had correspondence regarding co-hosting future events. Through a series of email communication, FHAA proposed to co-host an event with the Queens Memory for Asian Pacific Heritage Month and Memorial Day in May.
March 27
Event details confirmation

Edwin confirms details regarding the event with all parties.

April 6
Promoting the event

Event details and flyers were created and posted on the Queens Public Library website and at the Forest Hills Library. Edwin also promoted the event within the FHAA network.

May 17
Equipment preparation and arrival

Queens Memory prepared the digitization kit and sent to the branch library on May 17, 2016. The kit arrived at the branch library on May 24, 2016.

May 17
Additional details

Edwin proposed to complement the event with Corky Lee’s pop-up exhibition . Corky Lee’s photographs document the daily lives of Asian Americans as well as various historical moments in Asian American history. Edwin also made suggestions to display a traveling exhibit from the Chinese Historical Society of America (CA based) “Remembering 1882” to increase awareness of the Chinese Exclusion Act and to complement with the theme of APA heritage month. However, the branch library did not have sufficient space for the traveling exhibit but agreed with the pop-up exhibition.

May 26
Logistics confirmation

Edwin confirmed all logistics and set up with all parties.

May 28
Day of the Event

Set up began at 1pm and closed around 5pm.

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