Where are you from?

Chengdu, China

What was it like growing up?

Chengdu is known for its very spicy Sichuan style of cooking. I moved to the United States at the age of 6 with my family, but still recall my parents rinsing off spicy dumplings and noodles in water for me so that I could eat them as a child. The food was my favorite part of growing up in China.

What brought you to Cleveland?

I was living on the West Coast and took a job offer in Cleveland within my former company, partly because my husband is from here and partly because we were tired of paying half our paychecks to rent.

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

I remember thinking how wide open and spacious everything is in America. China is very densely populated and there’s not a lot of nature and green spaces in the cities. As a kid here, I loved chasing after squirrels in the park and feeding ducks in the ponds. I still appreciate the open space, and try to make it out to the Metroparks when I can. I don’t like the squirrels as much anymore, because they drive our dog crazy!

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

I didn’t speak English, but luckily it’s fairly easy to pick up when you’re that young. Mostly I just stayed very quiet and tried to not look as out of place as I felt. My parents faced much bigger challenges though, like raising a family on my dad’s student stipend as a grad student and my mom’s waitressing tips.

What is your occupation?

I co-own an ice cream shop called Mason’s Creamery with my husband, and also work for Associated Bank in their commercial real estate financing group.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Yes! My husband and I have lived in 8 cities between the two of us, and Cleveland is hands-down the most welcoming city we’ve lived in. When we first started our ice cream business, total strangers would give us their phone numbers, just in case we needed anything.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Mostly eating lots of Chinese food. We eat at a lot of the restaurants in Asiatown, and are always happy to see something new pop up.

What do you love about Cleveland?

I love the people!

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

While immigration has become a political hot-button these days, it’s good to remember that the United States was built by immigrants seeking a better life, and ended up creating a beautiful country to grow up in. Immigrants have contributed so much to this country, and most of us hope to be able to keep contributing to it for our children to have better lives here too.

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

Access and education about resources like Global Cleveland is a great place to start, and meeting people who understand what you might be going through a good way to make the unfamiliar less scary.