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Monica, China/Northern Ireland 

My name is Monica Yang.

I am 50 years old.

Originally, I came from Meilan, China

I was a university teacher in a big city in China. I also did an interpreting job in the companies.

[What did you teach?] English

[And is that what you interpreted as well?] Yes

I left China in 1993; I came here with my husband.

I’ve been living here for 22 years now.

I like Northern Ireland very much; it’s my home now.

Yes, I go back to China very frequently, because I have family members like parents and sister and brother still living in China. And also because my current job allows me to travel back to China very frequently.

Many local friends ask me why I chose Northern Ireland; they are confused, it looks like. It’s an interesting question. Because that time, when I left China, they had just opened the doors to the outside world.  We didn’t have a lot of choices like students have today; families didn’t have financial capabilities to support us going abroad. My husband and I came to go abroad, to study, but because our family had no money to support us, so my husband contacted several UK universities. Luckily, University of Ulster offered him a PhD scholarship. So that’s how he came to Northern Ireland University of Ulster, for PhD studies.

My full time job now is working for the Queen’s University Belfast.  I particularly recruit international students from my market in China. I have also been involved in community works for the last many, many years.

I used to help with the Mandarin Speaker’s Association, and before that, I was also helping with the CSC, that’s the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. Now I am with NICEM, I am current chairman of NICEM.

I brought two objects today. One is a fan, traditional Chinese fan, that represents Chinese traditional culture. And, also, there is a film from a very famous ancient poet, and that represents a traditional culture.

Another thing is a Mongolian pot…. It represents my hometown; I came from Mongolia, one of the provinces in China. That’s to remind me of where I came from, it reminds me of the culture I was brought up with.

I still love Chinese culture and I am so happy I spent so many years in Northern Ireland to give me opportunity to understand and integrate with the local communities, so allowing me to kind of develop the ability to become a bridge between two cultures. So, like my job or my commitment to work, is to promote Chinese culture in Northern Ireland for many years. And my job is to help my university understand the universities, culture, and language in China to make business flow more smoothly.

So, I feel I am privileged over the last many years, though the first years were a very difficult time for me and for my family. So I am happy to have both sides of the culture.

As a chair of NICEM, I chair the monthly meetings and review overall strategies and help NICEM to promote strategies and promote NICEM, and make sure as many people as possible hear about our problems, what kind of support, and what kind of changes we should bring to the society. I am very happy to help… a lot of issues are solved there with immigrants and migrant workers. Like myself, the reason I help so many others is because I knew, I know, how hard it is for immigrants to come to a different country. The language, the lack of access to local services, and domestic problems, stress from everywhere. Hopefully by supporting NICEM, we will be able to make more people aware of what the problems are, and more people will be supportive and everyone will make efforts to make changes and make society better for everyone.