MPIPersona Project
bjdlzx/iStock

John

Portrait of John
Age
28
Race
Asian
Hometown
Madison, Wisconsin
Now lives
San Francisco, California
Job Title
Team Lead, Technical Services
Income
$75,000
Education
MS (Computer Science)
Group
Creative Traded
Occupation
Computer & Mathematical
Industry
Business Services
Artifact: Football

Artifact: Football

It represents strength, kind of like going into battle with your brothers, and your teammates, together. I think that kind of stems from some of the history of America. It is us versus them; we go to war. And I think it’s the camaraderie, and the physical, very boisterous personality that you might associate with the States.

Inside-outsider, who just wants to help
“I’m really confident that I can take care of anything that comes my way — I think, generally, things will work out. I’m just a very lucky person; things seem to work out for me.”

Work

My life is pretty normal, I guess. I go into the office just about every day, except when I’m travelling for work. I started in my company as a programmer. Now I’m technical services; I’m the problem solver. I’m kind of a car guy, so I explain it like this: I’m pretty much the mechanic for the software. I like knowing that every day is going to be different, knowing that there’s always going to be a challenge, I’m never going to be stuck doing the same thing over and over again. You get to help someone. It sort of makes you feel like a hero, in a way. Like, they had a problem, they called you, and you were able to help them figure it out. So I think that service is very rewarding. I get a lot of joy from helping people in general and my job allows me to do that in a meaningful way. That’s the biggest thing. I prefer this to having a job where I’m waiting for the clock to strike 5 o’clock.

busy market in hong kong herrwillie/EyeEm

Community

Growing up in Wisconsin, you always clearly know you’re Chinese and a little different. Sure, I was bullied a bit, but wasn’t everyone? I studied abroad in Hong Kong in my junior year of college. And part of that was just to get to know that side of myself. I fell in love with Hong Kong and I always want to go back there. In Hong Kong, I feel like I’m part of the majority and more confident — it just feels different. Growing up, I didn’t have any Asian friends, and now, I just feel like I’m becoming more Asian.

“In my job, I like knowing that every day is going to be different, knowing that there’s always going to be a challenge, I’m never going to be stuck doing the same thing over and over again.”

Politics

I think, globally, we hear about America as being at the forefront of science and technology, but also maybe from a military standpoint. I know there’s a lot of discussion that our hands are in a lot of places where we don’t need to be. And I certainly agree with that. I don’t think the government is perfect, but we make it work. Visiting Hong Kong in the last few years has made me think about democracy a bit more. I grew up in a democracy, so I didn’t necessarily see the immediate struggles that people without it see. Free elections are a pretty big deal in Hong Kong right now. You may just have one vote, but at the same time, it’s better than nothing.

Inside-outsider, who just wants to help
“I’m really confident that I can take care of anything that comes my way — I think, generally, things will work out. I’m just a very lucky person; things seem to work out for me.”

America

If you’re overseas, you hear things about America: “They’re rude,” “They’re loud” or “It’s ridiculous, people are getting killed every day with shootings in America.” Things like that. And people not being happy that we’re kind of pushing our culture, and our way, because we have the military that comes in and tells people what to do. It makes me feel ridiculous sometimes, so I distance myself from it.

person dressed as Uncle Sam EdStock/iStock

Government

I guess if something bad happened the government should be there, but I’ve never really needed it. Government help is for those who really need it — and I think I would go to my family first. I used to think government was about helping people, but I guess it just keeps a kind of order to things. Even when the two sides can’t work together, our laws still stay the same and we still have our freedoms.

“I fell in love with Hong Kong and I always want to go back there. In Hong Kong, I feel like I’m part of the majority and more confident — it just feels different.”

Economy

My parents worked pretty hard to make it all come together. Can you imagine my mom didn’t even speak English when they moved to Wisconsin? They would say that I don’t appreciate their work enough and that I should be focusing more on making sure things will work out in the future. But, things generally do work out for me. Maybe it’s luck and maybe I should be more careful — but I help people out, they help me, and it all works out. Even though it was hard to get a job in 2009, I’m not really worried about my future. I think about what I want and try to find ways to make it happen.

Housing in San Francisco CindyGreensteinPhoto/EyeEm

Education

Things are ok right now because I just have to take care of me. Having roommates helps, but I don’t think I could live in San Francisco on my own. When you count in everything, some months are harder than others. I don’t have as much student debt as most — my parents helped with undergrad, but I had to pay for my master’s. I’m too young, but if I had a family… I don’t know. I mean, I’ll figure it out… just not now.

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