“When I was eight years old, my family sponsored a refugee family from Laos through our church. We were told they might not know how to use a washing machine or stove, but it turned out that the father had worked in an international hotel. They completely defied our expectations. I remember laughing and playing with their two little boys, thinking they were just like me but from a different place.
“When I was a teenager, my family hosted exchange students from France and Japan. It was another opportunity to learn about new cultures, try new food, and learn a new language. Being an exchange student as a teenager isn’t easy – they were far from home and missing family – but they each brought with them something new and interesting, and they made my life richer.
“The first time I became an immigrant was when I lived in Brazil. While I loved Brazil, its language, its culture and especially its food, I experienced for the first time how disorienting it is to be an immigrant. I knew how things worked in my country but in this new place, I was completely helpless. I had to learn everything from scratch – how to pay my bills, how to write checks, and how to get around. And even when I’d been there a while and knew how to speak enough Portuguese to get around, new things would surprise me. I think about that time a lot when working with my clients.
“By the time I attended law school, I had developed a fascination for, and love of, other cultures and languages. I knew I wanted to work with immigrants, and I am so glad I do. I have the best clients in the world, and they teach me new things every day.”