To the U.S. with love

Posted by on June 19, 2013.

In 2005, after receiving my B.E. in Industrial Design in China, I traveled to Finland to earn a master’s degree. While working in Finland, I was surrounded by talk of entrepreneurship and startups. The tech industry in Finland was going through a great transformation at that time. I was excited about new ideas and new businesses, and I turned to Silicon Valley for role models like Paul Graham.

Shanfan Huang

I felt a connection to the United States, but even though my then-fiancé was studying at MIT I was concerned about leaving Finland. My husband encouraged me to come to give the U.S. a try, and it was a wonderful decision.

My time in the U.S. has been amazing. Though my initial F2 visa did not allow me to work, I volunteered at a dance studio – the Dance Complex – in Cambridge, MA. I took lessons, volunteered, and used my skills in web design and communication to help my fellow dancers set up blogs and websites, and wrote press releases. I even produced dance concerts. Eventually, a web design company offered me a job and sponsored my H1B visa.

Though I received the offer in February 2012, the H1B quota from that year had run out. To submit a petition, we had to wait until April. Then, while it was fortunately approved in May, I could not start until October 1. The immigration system forced me to wait more than half a year to begin my job.

I have changed jobs since then, and now work at XPO Logistics as a user experience and software designer. I’m lucky that my employers have been so supportive and helped me to navigate the visa process, and I feel very blessed to have landed here.

I’m especially proud to be a part of Boston. The people I meet here, regardless of their background, nationality, or profession, are all aspirational, hardworking, creative, and ready to pursue their dreams. I enjoy being surrounded by such diverse yet like-minded people. Ideas spark ideas.

What fascinates me about the U.S. is that the people are so enthusiastic about their society. Everyone wants to speak up for their causes, demanding changes. I guess it’s because this is a country built on immigration and democracy, where cultural diversity and public debate is regarded as a norm.

I support comprehensive immigration reform because all the smart, passionate and diligent people, regardless of their various backgrounds, deserve a prosperous future. So does this country.

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