NAME: Ruthia

OCCUPATION: product designer, Facebook

Origin: China

Years in the us: 3

Can you tell me your name and where you are originally from?

My name is Ruthia. I am from Beijing, China. I have been here for three and a half years, and I've been making a lot of friends here and really like living here.

Can you tell me a little bit about what brought you to America and to Silicon Valley?

Yeah, for me, I came here for grad school because my parents, they are traditional Asian parents, and they are, oh, like, PhD. They're wanting me to do the PhD program, but I don't want to. I told them, if I have to do a grad school, then I would rather go here because I can at least experience some new culture.

I came here, and went Carnegie Mellon. After the master program, I built the confidence that I can pursue design as my professional career. I went to Facebook and became a product designer. 

Awesome. Can you tell me more about your experience living in the states so far? What's been great, what's been challenging?

Yeah, a lot of challenges. For me, actually, if anyone asked me where I will be in three months, I will say I don't know because my visa, it will expire this May. I need to get into a lottery, which I have only 60% of chance to win the lottery, and then I can extend my visa. If I cannot get it, I will have to leave the United States and go to another country.

For that lottery thing, this is not the first time I participated. Last year and the year before, I just participated, but I didn't win it. For it's like, it's not something that's been bothering all year long, but it's like every April, which is the time the lottery happens, I will kind of wait for the judgment, wait for the result. It had happened twice, last year and the year before, that I didn't get it, so I don't really have any hope on it. That kind of feeling is very annoying. It's just uncertainty. I don't know where I will be.

I know a lot of my friends, they have the same issue. Some friends, they chose to work in the UK instead of US because they think it's more stable there because, once they get a job over there, they will know for sure that they can stay there for longer, but here everything is uncertain.

 

Some friends, they chose to work in the UK instead of US because they think it's more stable there because, once they get a job over there, they will know for sure that they can stay there for longer, but here everything is uncertain.

 

Gosh. How does that affect you knowing that you might have to go at any time? How does that affect you making friends? How does that affect feelings about your career? How do you make those decisions when you don't even know if you can stay?

It's hard. It's really hard to make decisions. The best thing I can do is to always have plan A, plan B, but that also needs I need to think a lot about it. It is just very hard. I know, especially, for some of my friends, if they have the family, or they have kids, this kind of uncertainty is not only about themselves but their whole family. That's really hard.

For me, the only thing I can do is to ... It's kind of like an adventure here. I just want to do as much as I can to make this adventure more, how to say it, more valuable for me. If I cannot stay here for longer, I want it to be like a very nice memory for me.

Yeah, that's hard. Have your fears around staying or going, have those been affected at all by the policies when Trump started running and Trump came into office? How has the affected your feelings about being here and your fears?

First thing is uncertainty because it's changing every week, every month, so we don't know what will happen. Trump just had the proposal to change the H1B, which is the work visa, that policy, but we don't know. There are just different versions of it. We don't know what it will finally become. That uncertainty is definitely a thing. Also it influenced my future plan of what I will do next.

The second thing is, I think one thing that America really attracts me is its diversity and its open mindset to people from different countries. From what Trump has done, I'm not very sure that this kind of American spirit or American kind of dream will still be mainstream.

 

I'm afraid if people around me, they will also be influenced by this kind of policies, and then they are not nice anymore to immigrants, then it's definitely going to be very tough.

 

It's scary.

Yeah, it's just scary. I'm afraid if people around me, they will also be influenced by this kind of policies, and then they are not nice anymore to immigrants, then it's definitely going to be very tough.

Have you experienced any sort of new behavior like this recently, or is it mostly the same? 

For me, I think it's being, yeah, I think for the past few months because I see a lot of coworkers and friends, they spoke up for it, so I think it got very inspired from their actions. I talk more, and then also made some posts on Facebook to share with my friends. 

If you don't get granted a new visa for staying here, what do you think you're going to do?

It's so hard, yeah. I think I will probably go back to my home country because my families are there, and then I can still work, but that will be a very different life. I need to get used to a lot of new things because I started my career here, so I know the career there can be very different, but I think that's probably the ... I mean, legally, that's the thing I can do.

That's got to be hard. Do you feel like you will be able to keep your career trajectory the way it is?

I think that it's going to be very different, yeah. It's going to be very different. Also, I may go to maybe other countries, for example, like Canada and UK, Europe. I mean, there are some choices, but still, for us, the things is, after the lottery reads out, which will be the end of April. After that, I can start planning because what if I get the lottery? Then maybe I don't need to worry about it, but still the timeline is very tight. 

What do you hope will happen from here?

I think the policy should reflect the value that people care. I don't know if it's the proper way to express it, but, I mean, from what I've seen, like the policy we have right now is not what I want to see of what I have been seeing from American society. I want to see definitely a more open mindset reflected by the policy.