Our interviewee today is Walter Suin Chin who, like many, is an immigrant in Danbury. I asked him the origin of his surname and he explained: “More than a century ago, many Chinese immigrated to Ecuador fleeing hunger and poverty, and searching for a better future. Now a century later, the desire for improvement motivated me to become an immigrant.
I come from a family with many moral principles and who promote a passion for work and family. In Ecuador, it is very difficult to advance economically for many reasons. Being a professional is no guarantee for success and while it is true that success does not necessarily come in hand with a profession, the combination of factors like effort, initiative, vision and cunning is what brings us success.
In our country, few have a home of their own, a car, or vacations with their family, medical insurance and money to pay for their children’s schooling. I was an engineering student who, if I was successful, would make at most about $1,500 per month. I did not want to settle for that. I came in 2000, invited by an uncle, and that is when I realized how developed this country was. It was impossible not to marvel at its buildings and order!
When I hear people criticizing the United States, I would like them to first try living in poverty and perhaps they would value this great country more. Nothing is perfect, and the truth is that we are the ones who must be the agents of change, by working harder, being more responsible and above all, trying to always do our best and make our Latin American culture proud. This is a country that opens its doors and the only thing we should give in return is respect for its institutions. I am fortunate, for this country has given me a lot.”
What did you do for the last 17 years? He responded enthusiastically: “When I arrived here, I was fortunate enough to meet an Italian immigrant who not only gave me work, but also taught me construction skills and helped me with the I-245 law that gave me legal status. There are many good people willing to help with the only hope that one day, you will do the same. But returning to the original question, I can say that many things, but mostly construction, painting and currently, “Real Estate.” The latter I thought was a good choice due to my experience in construction, coupled with the fact that there is a niche for real estate agents who speak Spanish. The reasons are diverse; perhaps the strongest is that culturally, people who want to buy a home feel more secure if the salesperson speaks Spanish, since I can explain the process in their own language. However, I must admit that my first sale was to an American.
“Do you speak English well?” For me, it was a challenge from the first day to speak the language. Adapting to a country without knowing its language to me was impossible. But here in Danbury, there is such a large Portuguese community that it is very easy to learn Portuguese and that is why I learned both languages from a teacher. Everything we learn is a tool that we use sooner or later.” What would your final message be? “The greatest success is to earn a living honorably. When others refer to you, let it always be to say something positive. It is true that life is not easy but many times we are the ones who set our own obstacles. We must understand that we are above any limitation.”
María Danniella Gutiérrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before going after her own American Dream and becoming a writer in the United States. Mdgutier@gmail.com.