Where are you from?

New Zealand

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in a single parent family mostly in poverty circumstances where my mom had a very low income but somehow raised 2 kids.

What brought you to Cleveland?

My girlfriend of 2 years, we met online and after a long relationship of correspondence I decided to pack my bags to come and be with her, we want to get married soon and start a family in Cleveland. I completely shut down my entire life in New Zealand so that I could come here to be with my love.

What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change?

I have dreamed of coming to the USA from when I was a teenager, the opportunities here are amazing for those willing to work hard, I worked hard and put myself through college to try and earn the right skills so that I could come to America and add value by contributing to technology businesses here. The political landscape is changing very fast in USA for immigrants, but that has not changed my resolve about what a great country America is and I am determined to stay and make success here.

What challenges did you face transitioning here?

Visa and Financial Challenges are still very important issues for me.  Without a visa I am unable to work here right now despite the opportunities on offer, and while I have started the process of getting a visa, it takes a long time and comes at a huge cost due to the process.

What is your occupation? Are you a member of a sorority, fraternity, or any other civic or social organization?

Digital Marketing and Business Development.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Cleveland locals have been very friendly and inviting I feel at home here and love the city.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

As I am ethnically an Asian from the pacific islands,  food culture is a tradition that I bring with me and aim to continue here where I think many Americans will be interested in the cuisine and different flavors I can introduce.

What do you love about Cleveland?

The rock museum, the arts scene, the pizza, the people, the basketball team… whats not to love this is an amazing city, I just hope I can stay.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Not all immigrants and refugees come from the same circumstances. Refugees especially come from difficult regions of the world where hostile living conditions may exist, in reality all most of them want to do is raise their families in a safe place, it is not their faults if their countries are in political turmoil, and so before we judge them we must aim to understand their background.

As for me I am an economic immigrant, whilst I have worked very hard in my career in New Zealand to try and break the cycle of poverty through education, I was faced with the dilemma in New Zealand of a bi-cultural workforce largely filled with nepotism, and whilst not obvious or publicly on display the economic level of discrimination was very real. Whilst more qualified and often more experienced than my ‘white’ counterparts and friends I found they could easily get opportunities and employment and I could not, this had nothing to do with my abilities but more to do with my race. Even though NZ promotes itself as a multicultural and welcoming country the situation on the ground for many of its immigrants or people of different ethnic background is dire, it hardly matters how hard we work but we could not achieve the life we wanted or raise a family where economic discrimination existed.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

To understand other cultures and also realize that regardless of where we are from we are all human beings who share many things in common also.

I have traveled and lived in many placed in the world, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Singapore, Thailand etc. I am happy to talk about any of these with you and share photos and experiences in any articles.