Where are you from?

I am from the Netherlands (“Holland” is the other name for my country)

What was it like growing up?

Wonderful, the Netherlands is a very rich country and has a strong safety net with excellent healthcare and low-cost universities to name a few benefits

What brought you to Cleveland?

Initially an athletic scholarship to play D-1 field-hockey in college. I then returned to the Netherlands and came back again because my husband is American.

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

I came to Ohio with ambivalent feelings, life was good in my home country and I had no economic reason to immigrate. I consider myself more an “international” or “expat” than an “immigrant”. However, I have come to appreciate Northeast Ohio very much, people here are polite & easy going and the cost of housing is low

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

Ignorance:I have had to combat the notion that, somehow, I must have come from a disadvantaged country…. some people that are not well-educated and don’t travel internationally still view the US as the only viable nation to live a good life and do not realize that there are other great countries to live, work & play. People have options. The US is a great nation but there are other great countries to live as well.

What is your occupation?

I am an economic developer charged with promoting Northeast Ohio to the rest of the industrialized world to attract new foreign business investment

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Everyone has been very nice

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Many, including holidays, dining and cultural traditions. I helped found the Cleveland Dutch School for instance.

What do you love about Cleveland?

It has a rich industrial history and was the Silicone Valley of yester-year; the old industrial wealth & history of invention & innovation are remarkable and make Cleveland special

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Stagnant water becomes putrid: new people from different parts of the world, willing to work hard & provide different ideas will enrich any community, especially those that have enjoyed a good education and can help transfer that knowledge and apply it locally

What suggestions do you have to make Cleveland a more welcoming community?

Truly embrace all internationals and include the expat community, not just those that came here for a better life