Planting beds

Oral History: Sulan Chin

Sulan Chin Introduction

Sulan “Sue” Chin was born in the 1950’s in the mountainous countryside of Burma, now Myanmar. From a poor working-class family, Sue and her three siblings were raised by their grandmother and mother, as her father traveled for his work. Sue remembers native fruits like lychee, pineapple, mango, and durian, and recalls her grandmother’s agricultural and cooking abilities, particularly her steamed cake–the family did not own an oven. Leaving Myanmar after the turmoil of its military takeover and the confiscation of property and livelihoods, Sue and her family arrived in the North Bronx in 1968. Settling into the predominantly Italian and Jewish Bronx neighborhood was difficult, as Asian food products were not available in supermarkets; the family would travel to Chinatown in lower Manhattan to buy what they needed. Eventually, thanks to the every-changing diversity of her community, Sue has sampled many different cuisines, such as Jamaican, Mexican, and African. A long-time gardener at Bissell Gardens, the first community garden in the northeast Bronx, Sue enjoys cooking different ethnic foods with her fellow gardeners, and grows important cultural crops, like bitter melon and bok choy, in honor of her grandmother who remained in Myanmar.

Interview Date: October 22, 2021, and November 3, 2021

Profession: Gardener, Retired

Birthplace: Burma (Myanmar)

Head shot for Sulan Chin

Sulan Chin

Full Length Video Part 1

Sulan Chin

Full Length Video Part 2