Where are you from?

I am from Seoul, South Korea.

What was it like growing up?

I grew up with both my parents and people around me all having extremely high expectations for my educational outcome.  It was those expectations that ultimately became my greatest motivation for me to have achieved what I have right now.

What brought you to Cleveland?

I currently live in Kent but do make it a point to get out to Cleveland often.  I came to Kent when I got a job as an associate professor at Kent State University in 2011.

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

One of my first thoughts was that it was so spacious and spread out as compared to Korea.  Everything here was bigger and so many different choices that I have to make for everything. My intent was to go back to Korea after my 2 years of graduate studies was completed. That obviously changed because I never went back to Korea.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

My biggest challenge was communicating with people with cultural backgrounds vastly different from where I grew up.  

What is your occupation?

I am an Associate professor and the Associate Director of the Fashion School at KSU

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Yes, very much.  Of all of the states I’ve lived in and visited over the past 20 years, the open-mindedness and acceptance of myself as a just another American by Clevelanders has had a great impact on my feelings of being a part of a community.  

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Korea’s New year’s day traditions I continue to follow with my kids.  They like to dress up in traditional clothes, hear our parental advice and then receive an envelope of cash.

What do you love about Cleveland?

It is a large city with metropolitan features and culture but also filled with smaller town-like community events.  I also love spring and fall here. I love going to all of the different metro parks with my family.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

I think it is important that all new immigrants and refugees benefit from the same experiences that I have been fortunate to have had.  The kindness that has been extended to me by Ohioians is something that convinced me to stay and share my skills and culture.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

Traveling abroad make you expose to so many different things. You learn to be open-minded, responsible, and aware of the cultural diversity of the other people from around the world in your community.