Where are you from?

Kingston, Jamaica

What was it like growing up?

I recall feeling connected to my neighborhood, a place called Elleston Flats. I remember block parties and street festivals. Music. Lots of music at home and outside. I also remember my school (Hope Valley Experimental School) which promoted the educational and emotional development of disabled and able-bodied children simultaneously. I learned about empathy.

What brought you to Cleveland?

This girl and college. The girl is now my wife.

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

I lived in Queens, NYC before Cleveland. My first thought: cold and snow. I learned to love the change of seasons especially the fall. I can now tolerate the cold.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

Minor ones. I was lucky. I grew up in Queens which is so multicultural – I did not stick out.

What is your occupation?

I work for a local foundation and do foundation stuff.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

A pivotal invite came to me from an elected official soon after we moved to Ohio City in 1998. This high energy official invited me to a meeting. I also got to know and become friends with some of my neighbors – some truly incredible people.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

This notion of community – people that live close to another should and must help one another.

Also the idea of celebration; taking time to live, laugh and appreciate the moment.

What do you love about Cleveland?

It’s spirit, history, neighborhoods, and its natural systems.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Because the economic development case for it has already been proven. In terms of social justice, it is the right thing to do.

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

We should appreciate and celebrate our differences. Have block parties. People should remember that all of us are immigrants. Some just got here sooner.