I am from Croatia.

My childhood there was not easy. My parents did not have much money and I come from a large family.

When my husband and I got married, we decided to move to America so that we could give our children a better opportunity.

My first thoughts about coming to the U.S. were that it was a land of freedom and opportunity and we were excited to come here. I think that there have been many changes that the government has had over the years that I have been here, and I don’t see it anymore as how I used to. The other countries, even Croatia, have developed in such a way that the same now could be said for most of them.

The challenges I faced when I came here were adapting to the winter (We  never had as much snow in Croatia, and when I came here in 1978, there was a big blizzard), meeting new people, and finding a place to stay.

I am a chef and owner of “Marie’s Restaurant.”

Other Clevelanders were very welcoming. It is the people that I have met over the years that made Cleveland so precious to me, and that is what I love most about Cleveland.

My family continues to practice many traditions and customs here. We still go to a Croatian Mass, we listen to the music and do traditional dances.

It  is important to travel abroad and welcome immigrants and refugees because that is how we learn and appreciate other cultures.