• Rediscovering Home: My Heartfelt Journey with APACC during Welcoming Week

    Rediscovering Home: My Heartfelt Journey with APACC during Welcoming Week

    As I reflect on Welcoming Week and the recent proclamation made by Michigan's Governor Gretchen Whitmer, I am reminded of the profound significance these events hold in my life as a newcomer to the United States. My journey to find a sense of belonging in a new country has been both challenging and rewarding, and the Asian-Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) has played a transformative role in this remarkable journey.

    I arrived in the USA in December 2022, less than a year ago, with a desire to provide better opportunities for my two children, especially in terms of their education and future. Born and raised in Thailand, my educational journey had previously taken me to the United States as an exchange student in Connecticut and later to the United Kingdom for my bachelor's degree. My diverse background and experiences had given me a sense of the American Dream and how life could change for the better in this land of opportunities.

    However, despite my previous exposure to the United States, the feeling of being a newcomer in Michigan was both humbling and overwhelming. The unfamiliar surroundings, customs, and people often left me confused and intimidated. The shift in mindset and approach from my previous visits was stark. Practical challenges, such as getting a driver's license, understanding complex health insurance systems, building a credit history, and searching for a house presented formidable obstacles. I explored Asian groceries tirelessly to get a taste of home.

    I soon realized that building a life in a foreign land required resilience and adaptability. With no local connections beyond my family and in-laws, finding a job in this unfamiliar territory was a daunting task. Six months of unemployment in a foreign land that I hoped to call home was emotionally taxing. 

    In the midst of these challenges, I was introduced to the Asian-Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) by a member, Brigitte Neumayr from ICONMA, and this encounter proved to be a turning point in my journey. Through APACC, I finally felt warmth and support outside of my family circle. Leonie, our Vice President of Operations, epitomized kindness and genuine warmth. Her support and guidance inspired me to contribute to our community.

    APACC became my home away from home, offering me not only a job but a sense of belonging. My journey began with volunteering at APACC's annual gala, where I had the opportunity to connect with incredible individuals who introduced me to others, connected me with valuable resources, and extended their support.

    After joining APACC as an Associate Executive Director, I attended various APACC events and ventured to engage with our partners such as the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Stellantis, NVBDC and Oakland Thrive. This allowed me to expand my network and get to know more wonderful people.
    I explored local temples, learned about small local businesses, and actively sought opportunities to support these enterprises. I wanted to contribute positively to the community, bringing new perspectives and fostering change.

    My journey in Michigan has been transformative, marked by challenges, moments of self-discovery, and, most importantly, a sense of belonging. Welcoming Week and organizations like APACC have played pivotal roles in helping me and my family navigate this transition.

    Governor Whitmer's proclamation reaffirmed my decision to call Michigan home. As I continue to explore and contribute to Michigan's vibrant communities, I eagerly anticipate building meaningful, lasting relationships and contributing to the state's legacy of diversity and inclusion.

    As APACC continues to provide opportunities to forge connection, please join me on Thursday, October 5th, at the upcoming signature event 'Blood of the Dragon.' I can't wait to meet you there and continue my journey of rediscovering home.

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Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC)

 PO Box 54, Clawson, MI 48017

 248. 430.5855

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