Ouyang Homecoming

This group blog tells the first person story of an extended Chinese American Family who reunited online and organized a trip to their ancestral roots in China.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kickoff Dinner - by Jeremiah Owyang

Back in August, we had a thank you dinner for our Travel Agent and cousin Don Mar. He did a terrific job assisting us, planning, coordinating. I was amazed at his patience, planning for a large group was no easy task. We treated Don and his wife to dinner at of course a Chinese Restaurant in Emeryville, a central location to many of us.

You can see the pictures of this gallery, please note that not everyone on the trip is represented as some of our dear family is located in Southern California.

Jeremiah Owyang

"I'm coming home to Dai Liang from America!" -By Sharon F

"I'm coming home to Dai Liang from America!" How can that be? I was born in America to Chinese parents, my Chinese father and my Chinese-American mother. I am preparing to return to the ancestral home of my Owyang grandfather Gon Sing. How did this China trip come to be? Let me begin from the start.

My grandfather Gon Sing, the youngest of three brothers and son of a lichee grower, came to America around 1912 as a student. He arrived in San Francisco, worked in a laundry and attended school to learn English. The opportunity arose to relocate and to farm the fertile soil of the Delta, along the Sacramento River. His wife Lum Shee arrived 3 years later with their second son Ah Lum. My mother Marion Owyang was the oldest daughter among the 8 children born between 1915 and 1925. I am fortunate that my grandmother and later my mother are good story-tellers, each sharing their individual lives in China and America. It is their stories that led me to learn more of my Owyang heritage.

Two years ago I organized a Owyang reunion in the Delta, in the town of Isleton, close to one of the farms in which my Grandfather was a share-cropper. My mother throughout my life told me that her surname was unique, that those with the Owyang surname came from the same village in China, the village of Dai Liang. With the names and addresses of Owyang relatives that my mother had in her address book, I began to send flyers of an upcoming reunion. The news of a reunion spread among the Owyang community, the end result being the attendance of more than 200, cousins and their families. At the reunion it was suggested that we Owyangs return to Dai Liang, our ancestral village, as a group.

I am a third generation Owyang, to return to my grandfather's birthplace, to his father's birthplace, and so on up the family tree. I am returning with my first cousins, with my third cousin, with my third cousin-once removed, with my seventh cousin, etc. Cousin Michael Ho has established how each of us are connected with each other, he being able to read and understand the Owyang genealogy book of 4700 years.

This is not my first trip to Dai Liang as I visited in 1991 with my mother and my daughter, 3 generations of Owyangs. Although my cousins had torn down the home of their father, the brother of my mother who never came to America, and rebuilt a modern 3-story house the village as a whole remained rural, pigs running in the streets, rice fields with water buffaloes surrounding the homes, vendors selling fresh/cooked food in open markets. In the past 15 years since I was there, I am told that the village is now surrounded by high-rise buildings, factories, evidence of rice fields disappearing. The village of the past is no longer there. What I will discover I cannot envision. " I am coming home to Dai Liang from America".

thoughts of the granddaughter of Owyang Gon Sing
Sharon F.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Start - By Jeremiah Owyang

Having been to the village Dai Liang twice before, both on different circumstances, I’ve got some knowledge on what to expect and what to do .

The first time I went, we were on a tour with my Mom’s side in the area, we were able to get the tour bus to make a quick stop back to our village, we got out, but didn’t know anyone or what to do. After we took some pictures we were thankful for the opportunity.

The second time, I went to Zhongshan (a large neighboring city) with my soon to be wife Shirley, to visit her family. They were so gracious in taking and hosting me, one of the highlights of the trip was when they took me to the Dai Liang village. We had no idea what to expect, let alone if we were to find anyone. As it turned out, with Shirley’s native family we were able to find some Owyang’s and I was given a tour of the village and presented with two books, one on the rich history of the City Dai Liang, and the second on my family’s lineage. More on that to come.

A few years ago, the Owyangs started to meet online and congregate, this is documented in this post on my career blog focused on “Web Strategy”. We met online, and were able to coordinate a live meeting in Isleton (Sharon F was the coordinator) of the distant cousins, many of us didn’t know each other, and were separated by a few generations or were a few branches over.

It was only natural that a discussion to occur that suggested a family trip back to the roots, I saw all the eyes look at me, me and my big mouth! Fast forward to 2006, we were able to get folks to come together, created a core management team, polled the family for ideas and needs, and were able to utilize cousin Don Mar to assist as our travel agent. In one week, we’ll be on a plane and will meet up in southern China. We’ll first stop at some neighboring cities then will spend three days in ZhongShan and DaiLiang.

There will be a total of 22 of us returning to our roots, most have Owyang blood in them, others married in, and a few friends of the family we welcome on the trip.

(China pics in 2000 and 2002)

More to come

Jeremiah Owyang