Where are you from? 

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

What was your childhood like? 

I grew up in a middle class family in the second most populated city in my country. Education was not optional, it was considerably the most important aspect of my childhood. Even though my parents never finished high school, they did everything in their power to ensure my younger brother and I receive the highest academic quality to succeed in life. Disappointing your parents was quite frankly not a choice, so growing up, focusing on school was the only thing that I knew of. 

What brought you to Cleveland?

My immediate family and I emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. in 2008. We lived in Minnesota for two short months with the majority of my dad’s side of the family. It was during the recession of 2008, the job market wasn’t looking so great for my non-English-speaking parents. We had a few relatives who happened to have lots of connections in Cleveland, so we left Minneapolis with a leap of faith. Eight years later, I’m genuinely glad that we made that move.

What were your first thoughts about coming to the U.S.? Did those change? 

The English language was always my favorite subject in school back then, so when my parents broke the news that we were coming to the U.S., I was thrilled to have the chance to apply my linguistic knowledge and improve my dialogue further. At the same time, I was also very fascinated by the American “culture,” as observed from movies (mostly Disney) and ’90s music. It was more of an excitement realizing that my life was about to turn onto a whole new chapter. Having lived in this country in the past 8 years, I can honestly say that those feelings haven’t worn of and I’m proud to call this city and this country my second home.

What challenges did you face as transitioning here? 

The diversity! It was one of those good challenges that I was glad to stumble upon. Cultural diversity was certainly not a thing back home. I found it rather fascinating to learn about cultural differences and embrace them. And Cleveland has been amazing at showing me the rope of diversity!

What is your occupation? 

I am a Senior Talent Sourcing Specialist at Alexander Mann Solutions, a UK-based Recruitment Process Outsourcing firm with a global client service center located right in the heart of downtown Cleveland.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed? 

With their undying loyalty, sportsmanship, genuine, and down-to-earth hospitality!

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice? 

Eating delicious homemade Vietnamese food (a bowl of pho for chilly winter days is my comfort food), celebrating Lunar New Year

What do you love about Cleveland? 

Cleveland State University and downtown! As a proud alumna, I credit all the opportunities presented to me, the friendships I’ve made, the people I’ve met, and most importantly my Cleveland pride and love to CSU. It wasn’t until college that I truly got to see what Cleveland had to offer. I love spending time in downtown, for work, the gym, hanging out with friends, participating in a public event, and as of late, checking out the newly renovated Public Square under holiday lights!

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees? 

Natives, immigrants, refugees, whatever your classification might be, I believe that at the core, we are all human beings. Why limiting one’s self to only knowing your own bubble when you can learn about how big our world actually is at the comfort of living in such a diverse city?

Why is it important to travel abroad? 

Because “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”