On the evening of Thursday, May 19th, the Ameson Foundation held the first event of its new Ameson Dialogues speaker series at its headquarters in the Reagan Building located in downtown Washington, D.C. The highlight of the event was an engaging presentation delivered by Mr. Ted Gong, Director of the 1882 Project Foundation and President of DC chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, who discussed the often overlooked history of U.S. government exclusion of Chinese immigrants and the unsung stories of how this group worked to build the country.
The event started with networking, during which guests enjoyed happy hour refreshments and hors d’oeuvres as they engaged in discussions about the topic of the presentation. Mr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Ameson Foundation, then opened the presentation portion with a brief introduction of the Foundation and the goals of the Ameson Dialogues series for a filled room with an audience of over 30 individuals. He then introduced Mr. Gong, who, in addition to his role in the 1882 Foundation, has a long history of public service, including a career as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State where he specialized in East Asia policy and operational issues related to border management and security, migration and refugees, and consular affairs.
In just little over half an hour, Mr. Gong managed to give a summary of the history of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act as well as the events that led to its establishment, repeal, and official recognition by the U.S. Congress as an act of wrongdoing. Mr. Gong filled his conversational-style presentation with real examples plucked from his organization’s years of research as well as the experiences of his own family. He also spoke of the work the 1882 Foundation has done to receive official recognition of this historical travesty and the ways it is working to raise awareness of its history and preserve the stories of those who suffered its effects. The lecture was followed by a question and answer period and concluded as guests engaged in dialogue on the topic with those around them.
The event was well-received by participants, and many expressed interest in learning more about Mr. Gong’s work with the 1882 Foundation and attending Ameson Dialogues events in the future. Ameson hopes that upcoming events in this series will create a space where individuals from diverse backgrounds gather to share and discuss unique perspectives on the relationship between the United States, China, and other nations.