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Ming Yi Wang-Llodrat

Working for a global retail company in the past, Ming often traveled and sometimes lived in different countries. He soon realized he wanted to have a more settled life.

A: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

M: I’m from the province Jiangsu in China, close to Shanghai and I have been living here in New York for 5 years. I came here by myself and then I met my partner and got settled with my partner whose last name is hyphenated with my last name Wang. Here they pronounce it as Wang and to me it doesn’t sound nice. Most of the time people with last name spelled Wong are from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. But it’s basically the same last name, Wong and Wang. Both are actually pronounced as Wong.

My parents live in China and so does my brother who lives far from them, in Northwest of China next to Russia. He has his own business in interior design, decorating and construction. My parents are really comfortable living in China since they are retired, and all their friends and relatives are still there. I WeChat (Chinese version of FaceTime) my mom almost everyday and try my best to make her feel I am still close, that I am just one click away.

A: How did you meet your husband?

M: We met in Shanghai China, when he was traveling. We kept in touch and I always visited him on my business trips to the US. On my previous job I traveled a lot and that’s why I wanted to settle in one place. I was a national operations manager, for a global retail corporate, like a supervisor position, to see if their operations met the headquarters standard or I needed to deliver a message from headquarters. For some countries, I had to assist the local franchisees, and to train the employees. It was fun in the beginning, traveling around the world, and to many countries in South

America. Sometimes I had to stay for 6 months to a year. When you go to a country, you make some good friends and then you feel so sad when you have to leave them. I find that to be sad. I would have to leave and I don’t know if I’m going back to that country. It’s frustrating and I did it for three years. When I came to NYC, I thought it is a great city and my partner is from NY, so I thought it would be a great place to settle down.

Right now I’m a financial professional helping people with personal financial planning. At first I was reluctant to go in this business and it’s different from what I was doing before, but the more I learned about it and the different aspects of the company, I am now more capable to help others in a variety of financial planning such as retirement, estate planning, college funding and life insurance. I can do everything now for my clients. Most of my clients are from China so I feel a strong connection with them and they also feel very comfortable doing business with me. That’s when I started feeling that I like this job and I was really helping my clients. I made up my mind that I want to stay in this business because I really want to help people. Before this job, I had no idea what kind of life Chinese people, especially first generation, are living here in the US. Most of the time I feel sad because they are so hard working, most of them work 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week and that’s too much. I want them to feel financially secure, to know that their families are protected and are in good hands. I love to help them accumulate wealth in many ways as possible and can recommend different investment plans. Now I feel I am important and needed in this community.

A: Did your parents accept your marriage and is your sexuality accepted in China?

M: It’s not accepted in China. I didn’t really come out to my parents and we don’t really talk about it. I just said I got married here. My mom who I’m really close with, was at first surprised but she likes Joshua and says he’s really nice. She is fine with it. I love my dad, but I don’t really speak or interact with my dad as much and who is more of the silent type.

A: Back in China, compared to the US, did you experience any type of discrimination?

M: Never. When I came out to my schoolmates that I like guys, they were all cool with it. Putting politics aside I think Chinese people are conservative but they are pretty open about things.

A: What do you think about the term people of color?

M: That’s a heavy topic. Yes, I’m from China and I’m an Asian but I don’t really think or put that label on me. If I put that label on me I’m just saying that I’m vulnerable or asking for attention. Yes of course when we talk about race, yes I am a person of color. Pretty much everyone else is also a person of color even white people. It’s just a different color. I just don’t want that concept to pull me back. The United States is a very interesting country, we come from all over and most of us are immigrants. It’s not really fair to tell other people that you are a person of color and that you don’t

belong here. It’s just not right to me. I just don’t think you have to label yourself. Just be yourself, live your life and do the right thing.

Back in China, discrimination exists everywhere and all the time especially based on how you look. If you’re from one part of China and travel to another part, you are discriminated upon. Here in the US there’s more of a mix of people, so there’s definitely going to be more discrimination. People are always going to discriminate, it’s normal and it just exists. It’s part of being human. What matters is how you choose to handle it.

I speak Chinese Mandarin the official language and the majority of Chinese people speak it. Of course there are different dialects as well. In Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong they speak Cantonese. All the different provinces in China have their own different cultures. When I was in college, I lived in Guangzhou for more than four years, the third largest city in China, where they speak Cantonese. When I first lived there I discriminated against them, their food, their accent, the way they talk and behave. Looking back that was terrible and it took me about 6 months to have a

change of heart. Gradually I fit in and I fell in love with Cantonese culture, their language, songs, their food, and the people. I think they are really peaceful. Once you get to know a person, place, or culture, even religion, discrimination goes away. It needs time. I think that’s why there’s discrimination because you see a person that doesn’t look like you and you have some discrimination. But once you get to really know them well, discrimination disappears. Bottom line, we are all human beings and we are all the same. We are just from different places.

A: Do you think the stereotype that Asians are quiet is true?

M: From my experience with my clients and the people that I know here, it is true. The majority of Chinese people especially first generation tend to keep things to themselves or not make their voice heard because they don’t want to make any trouble. They probably don’t know where they can turn to for help or where to make their voice heard and so they keep things to themselves. In Chinese culture, instead of being aggressive they choose to be peaceful. They think that’s a better way to solve a conflict, an issue, to just let it go and don’t make it a big deal and things will go away. For the second and third generations, they blend in very well to society. But the sad effect is Asian people get bullied more easily so that’s the drawback.

A: Tell us more about China.

M: The place where I’m from, the food tends to be more flavorful, they add more seasoning and it’s spicy. In Canton area, the food seems to be plain compared but it’s designed to fit their environment. In the South of China, it’s very hot and humid all year round, so they can’t have spicy foods, they get hot and break out.

The educational system is much cheaper. Here in the US, not everyone can attend or afford an Ivy League college. In China, as long as your scores are good enough, you can go to any university. In China there is only one scale, your academic scores, which I really hate and disagree with. It’s very complicated because there are so many people. It’s the only fair way for people to get an education. The system puts so much pressure. Back when I was in junior high and high school, the day started at 5:30am and ended at 9:30pm, with very little time to eat or rest. You had very little

time to even shower. By 10pm, it was lights out and you had to be in bed. It was terrible and I had a hard time and I hated it. We didn’t even have weekends. I only had one day out of the month to go home. Everyone has to go through that and you have to study hard. That was six years of too much torture. It’s not the life of what a child should go through. In China it’s normal to have 50-60 students in one classroom.

Religion in China is restricted. Teachers cannot teach students about any religion. In China people are taught to be atheist. The government doesn’t want people to be dominated by religion. Everything is by the government, one Communist party ruling the whole country. It has its pros and cons. The pros are that it’s very efficient. The cons are there is no diversity. Also people become more and more conservative, they don’t accept other outside cultures.

The currency is called the Yuan. China is developing so fast. If you live in the city, everywhere you go, you pay with your phone and it’s convenient. But houses are very expensive, Shanghai and Beijing are cities like New York and prices are comparable.

Healthcare is very affordable in China. For people who work, their medical plan covers almost everything and you can see a doctor very easily.

A common tradition in China is for the young people to take care of the elderly. But in the rural areas, they’re not doing too well in taking care of the elderly.

A: Do you consider yourself an atypical Asian?

M: Yes very much! Although I grew up with Chinese culture and its language, eating Chinese food, I am very open minded about all other cultures and people. When I hang out with Chinese people, I fit in perfectly because I am Chinese. But whenever I hang out with people from other cultures, I also get along with them very well. I am proud and happy to be a Chinese because we have an amazing culture. But I’ve also adopted American culture pretty well. When I interact with people from a different race, I never try to give them the impression that I am an Asian. Instead, I will always like them to see me as a unique person without any labels.

A: What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

M: I want to have a successful career here in the States, definitely in finance. I love the diversity in this country. Everyone can come here and be as creative as you can. In China, you can’t really do that. I’m seeking to do more with investments. To me, this is just the beginning and there’s great potential for the future.

A: What message do you want to impart to others?

M: I have two messages. To everyone who is not in the Asian community, we are all

the same. We are all human. All it takes is for us to get to know each other better. To

Asians in the community, if you are getting hurt, stand up and don’t keep it to

yourself. You just need to find the right people to talk to. Be strong and be proud of

yourself, your own culture. Don’t put the label people of color on yourself, we all are

people of color, but just don’t put that pressure on yourself.

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