Fiona is a Brooklyn bred New Yorker who recently moved back to the city to pursue a corporate career. She is talented, driven and creative. Fiona has an unmatchable ability to balance a multitude of responsibilities while still leaving time for her own passions and hobbies. She is the American dream.
Tell us about your family’s background.
My dad came to America at 21. He grew up in Hong Kong but was born in southern Mainland China. He was one of five kids, had very little money, and had to get a job very early. He started working in a sweatshop at age 6 and worked there until he was 16.
Was he forced to work there?
He wanted to work to make money for food and hanging out with his friends. As a Chinese American, he has a different perspective on child labor. The conditions were fine. It was hot and they worked long hours, but it’s always hot in China.
What was his role there, especially at such a young age?
It was a sneaker factory. He started out shining fabric and then graduated to stitching. He was promoted to different roles along the way until he reached 16.
Why did he come to America?
He came to America so that he could go to college. He went to high school in Hong Kong. He had to build a house to live in, with five other friends, because his family didn’t have room for him to sleep. When they couldn’t afford materials, he would sneak into government construction zones to steal planks of wood. He got caught one night sneaking in. At 16, he got cited for the first time by the police.
How did his life change in when he came to the states?
He came alone to the US and he couldn’t afford college. He met a man, another Chinese American, thay payed him to attend his classes on his behalf. He then used that money for his own tuition to get an education. It was a great because he got a degree, and even learned some accounting for free from the other man’s courses.
Where is your mother from?
My mom came to America when she was 13. She is originally from rural southern China. Her family was very poor. They could only afford one chicken per year as a family. She could only eat one egg per year, on her birthday. There was political unrest in China in the 80’s. Hong Kong was under British government so it was more modernized. The rest of China was in a communist state.
Why did your mother come to America?
My mother was the youngest of six siblings. She came over alone and lived with extended family in a small apartment. She worked in the sweatshops in Chinatown to send money back home.
Did your parents meet in China or America?
My parents met in New York, they say they met on the street. At the time my mother had money saved up from working but my father was in debt from students loans. She knew that one day he would be very successful and could provide for a family so they ended up getting married. She supported him in the beginning but in the end, she was right.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Brooklyn and Chinatown. Eventually, I moved to the suburbs of New Jersey. I would come to Chinatown during the summer for Chinese summer school. Chinese parents want their children to learn all year round. It was called Kumon; even the logo includes a sad face.
Did the classes at Kumon pay off?
Ha, ha. I got a degree in supply chain and marketing at Lehigh University. Now I work at L’oreal as a Demand Planner. Demand planning is somewhere in between marketing, sales, and finance.
Can you tell us about the jewelry you are wearing?
This jade jewelry was my grandmother’s. This was her engagement ring. Its a Chinese custom to use jade instead of diamonds. Its brings good luck.