SINCE WE'VE NEVER MET JULIAN, WHY DON'T YOU START BY TELLING ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF!
Ok, I was born in China and lived there until I was 14 1/2. My Dad is Chinese and my Mom is Canadian. I am the 2nd oldest out of four kids. I moved to the U.S. in 2004. I went to an International School in China. And we would go to Canada to visit and come to the States for my Dad's meetings with the group he worked in China as a missionary for.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO MOVE FROM CHINA TO THE U.S.?
The culture shock was not a big deal for me. Whenever we did come here, we had to drive everywhere, so I knew that part. The biggest shock flash challenge was going to school here. In China, we had to wear uniforms...all the schools had them. Here in the public schools, there are no uniforms and that was difficult for me. You had to worry about what you were wearing. And if you were in trouble in China, the uniforms spoke out...here's where to call for help. Who is a friend? Who is in a rivalry? You could see who went to which school by the uniform them wore. Here you have to wait for a football game to see who is in what school.
SO TALK ABOUT THE TRANSPORTATION IN CHINA?
I got around on public transportation to go everywhere I wanted to go. I used train, ferry, taxi and I was independent that way. Transportation is an issue I want to be involved in. There's not adequate transportation here. In my senior year, I tried to get a Learner's Permit but I failed the test twice. I had to get DVR to help me for lessons, to pass the test. Now I drive here.
DO YOU WORK?
I work at Home Depot. I am Bilingual Assistant in the Garden Department.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN PEOPLE FIRST AND SFO?
Through a member's parent. My parents would go to CSU for Friday afternoons club at the International House, a dorm for international students. I'd go with them in the summer to hang out. I talked to the mom who was an original founder of the ARC in Larimer County. She invited me to People First.
I was unemployed in Fort Collins that year. I went and checked out the meeting. They offered me to run for the election and I was elected Vice President. I had a good feel about it.
WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?
For me, I like meeting people that I could make friends with. And I like a lot of advocating on situations. I did some advocacy in Missouri in the Global Messenger Program of the Special Olympics. I would do speaking at events to help advocate for funding.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST DISABILITY RELATED ISSUES IN LARIMER COUNTY?
Access to transportation and equal employment. People with disabilities want to be part of everything, pay taxes, be somebody. But it is hard if you can't drive. I can work in any entry level job but not everyone can. I worked as a Courtesy Clerk in a grocery store and now I am in the Garden Department helping customers. Not everyone can, but everyone can do SOMETHING.
For everyone to have some kind of job, we have to get involved to make that happen. Have to get interested and get the federal government and the state to get benefits fixed so we don't get penalized for earning money. We are all dealing the same circle of life issues!
WHAT DO YOU DO IN LARIMER COUNTY TO WORK ON ISSUES?
I have gone to City Council meetings and testified twice at City Hall on budget things, mostly on transportation. The ARC of Larimer County has a project called "Everybody Works." We provide good stories to businesses and others..about the success of people with disabilities in jobs.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING TREASURER OF THE STATE GROUP NOW?
I'm enjoying the role. I want to meet a good support system through SFO and help SFO too. I want to do the job right. It's also a skill for me to have.
SPEAKING OF JOBS, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MINIMUM WAGE AND SO MANY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITES STILL WORKING IN PROGRAMS WHERE THEY DO NOT EARN MINIMUM WAGE?
It disappoints me that so many people with disabilities are underemployed. People need to be treated in ways to help them grow.
I look at a river. There is a source in and a source out. You need both a way in and a way out. If you don't have both, you have a dead river. We're all like that in the community. We are a part of the community system. Some programs are like a dead river.