Chef at Hunan


Where are you from?
Chanton, China


What was it like growing up? 

I grew up on the countryside, my family was farmers and I have a big family. I went to high school. During the revolution I was a kid, people had a very low living. It wasn’t that great.


Why did you choose Cleveland?

I had relatives here, so I came to visit and then stayed. China was still poor at that time and we all wanted a better life. I came here in 1986, 30 years ago. I worked really hard to start a restaurant and learned to cook. I came here with my wife and started a family once we settled. 


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

I always thought America was beautiful. I thought you didn’t have to worry what to do or what to say. It was free and you can make money if you are willing to work hard. 


What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here? 

My wife and I had to go to private lessons to learn English, we didn’t have time to go to school. The biggest challenge is when you receive a letter from the school or government and you throw it away because you don’t understand. I want’ sure if we were missing something.  


What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

We speak Chinese with our children and we teach them the holidays and preserve what we once did back home. My children don’t have a problem; they understand they fit into society but we teach them what they need to know. 


How have Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

I tried to make friends with my neighbors. They were very helpful. There’s a Chinese community that offer lessons like English and citizenship. They help you find a doctor, all in Chinese and that was helpful when we first arrived. 


What do you love about Cleveland?

Living in Cleveland is easier, you can make money and buy a house and raise children. So the cost of living is low. There are a lot of organizations that are very helpful. Cleveland is friendly and you can help. To the first generation you have to work, everyone else gets to enjoy. 


What’s your favorite thing to do in Cleveland? 

I’m in the business of making money so working however I do like watching TV in Chinese. 


Why is it important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

It’s always important to help those in need.