with Ava Rosa
An interview with Roanoke’s Goodwill Ambassador, Pearl Fu Today we are talking with Roanoke’s Goodwill Ambassador and long-time advocate for cultural diversity, Pearl Fu. Growing up in the Yunnan province of China and later emigrating from Hong Kong, Pearl Fu has firsthand experience with what it is like to leave her home and move to across the world in search of a better life. It may be because of this, that she is so passionate about others who have experienced that journey. Since 1991, Pearl has been a vital part of Roanoke’s Local Colors tradition. What started as a celebration of a handful of countries has bloomed to an Olympic-like event celebrating the cultures and flags of 106 countries. Ava Rosa: Thank you so much for joining me today Mrs. Fu. As I prepared for this interview, I discovered that in 1959 you immigrated to the United States. What was the experience of moving to America like then and how has it changed over the years for those who come here now?
Pearl Fu: Yes, I came to America for college. Of all the countries around the world, America was the one place I wanted to go. I read a lot about America, saw TV and movies about America, and I was so happy to be here. Well when I met the people, they were very open and welcomed us and they taught me American traditions and culture. A lot of things we didn’t know. For example, young men would always run to the other side of me when we’re walking and I was wondering, “what is he doing?” Each block, he’d run to the right side. It turns out that in America, the man is supposed to be on the right side of the woman. Lots of those interesting incidents happened and I learned a lot. Ava Rosa: There seems to be so much anger and fear in America today
Growing Up • September 2016
towards people from other countries. Politicians are citing terrorism to block refugees from coming here and others are promising to build walls to keep people out. What do you think about this anger and fear and the current way the United States handles people who wish to come here from other countries? Pearl Fu: I am very upset about this because America is the land of freedom and we came here for that freedom. We should be respected and do what we think is right and other people should respect our thoughts and ideas. I think America should allow people from every culture to come to America and American people are made of people from other countries. I feel they should come and we shouldn’t block anyone from that experience because having different cultures enriches America. They bring their talents and they teach us and we teach them. It’s very beneficial.
Roanokers about continuing to appreciate the differences between us? Pearl Fu: Well, Roanoke is a wonderful place full of different cultures. Diversity really make it interesting and we learn so much from their traditions and cultures and festivals. We celebrated these festivals with food and clothing. We should celebrate the likeness of each culture and not seek the differences. Me, I am a very, very curious person. I would approach you and ask you, “Would you like to be in Local Colors?” This is what makes Roanoke, the six-time All-American city. Ava Rosa: Thank you for your time today Mrs. Fu. I promised just three questions, but you are welcome to share any closing thoughts you have with our audience.
Diversity really makes Roanoke interesting and we learn so much from their traditions and cultures and festivals.
Ava Rosa: We have done 12 interviews so far, with different people in and around Roanoke. We always ask our new friends who we should talk to next. Your name was always on the list. One of those friends, Delegate Sam Rasoul, had this to say about you, “Pearl Fu’s strength of character and hard work over many years have created a beautiful legacy of appreciation of the diversity in our community. Pearl Fu is an inspiration to me and to all those who value inclusion and cherish the many Local Colors that make Roanoke a special place to live.” What would you say to the future generations of
Pearl Fu: I want to thank you for this opportunity to talk with you and I’d like to say it in different languages. Arigato, Gracias, Merci Beaucoup! Thank you for this opportunity! Roanoke is a wonderful, wonderful place and I’m glad we moved here. All the different organizations, the government, the business people- all help each other and are very united to make this wonderful city we live in, the Star City of Virginia! Pearl Fu is a shining example of the power within each of us to make the world a little better. Her interest in the many cultures and nationalities of our community has transformed the way we look at people of different backgrounds. Here in Roanoke we celebrate all the Local Colors and Pearl Fu has helped us see the beauty in every one.
Volume 5, Issue 1