Learning the history of Seattle’s Chinatown

The tour guide expains the advertisements behind her.
The tour guide expains the advertisements behind her. David Kook / The Watchdog

On Saturday May 27, the Asian Pacific Islander Student Association hosted the Touch of Chinatown tour, as part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. During the neighborhood walking tour through Chinatown, students explored the International District and tasted different Chinese foods. Each student attendee paid $5 to be a part of the tour.

David Kook / The Watchdog

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrates the history and culture of these races. During the month, people usually celebrate by eating traditional meals, learning about their ethnic history and acknowledging achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Students tour the International District and learn about its significance.
David Kook / The Watchdog

The tour was organized by the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Students went on a 90-minute tour of the International District, following a guide. They “experience[d] the sights while uncovering how Asian culture has shaped the Pacific Northwest,” said Nora Lance, associate director of Student Programs. Students also toured the Wing Luke Museum. “Many people go to the Chinatown district but know very little about its history,” said Lance. After the tour, they ate Chinese food and each food was explained to them by their guide.

“Neighborhood walking tours give you an insider look at the historic and culturally rich neighborhood,” said Lance.
Bellevue College spent the month of May organizing other events to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander culture. There was the Karaoke and Bubble Tea event on May 18, the Taiwanese Night Market on May 19 and the API Art Exhibition and Tour of Asia on May 25. Many of the events were popular among the students, with over 100 people attending the Karaoke and Bubble Tea event and over 400 people attending the Taiwanese Night Market. “This is the first time we have planned a tour of the International District. Hopefully we can offer this again next year,” said Lance.

Van Kong, President of the Asian Pacific Islander Student Association, hopes that the tour encouraged and promoted students “to step out of their comfort zone and learn new things outside a textbook.” The students who went with the tour around Chinatown also received all-day passes to view the current gallery exhibitions at the museum.

The Wing Luke Museum is located in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, and showcases the history and experiences of Asian Americans through exhibits and daily guided tours. “If you have any preferences, you can always tell your tour guide where you want to go and they’ll take you around there, give you a little bit about the history,” said Shannon Urabe, visitor services and events assistant manager. “So, your guide takes you around at 2 p.m. It’s about a 90-min long tour, so you have a guide that shows you around, give you a good history about the area. If you want a little bit more of Japan Town history or Chinese history, they can always accommodate to what you’re interested in.” Other tours offered by the museum include Bruce Lee’s Chinatown and The Rice Stuff.