Linda He: Giv­ing back to so­ci­ety

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CHINA DAILY

Linda He likes the idea of shar­ing. When she first started her com­pany she used to or­der out good food and share it with her team. Now that she has be­come a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur, she shares her for­tune with so­ci­ety and of­ten in­vites Chi­nese im­mi­grants in the US to spe­cial events to share the sense of be­long­ing to their new home.

Un­der He’s lead­er­ship, the com­pany she founded — Wail­ian Over­seas Con­sult­ing Group — has blos­somed into a global en­ter­prise with more than 300 em­ploy­ees spe­cial­ized in im­mi­gra­tion con­sult­ing for Chi­nese na­tion­als, es­pe­cially in in­vest­ment im­mi­gra­tion to the US.

But for He, help­ing her clients to get per­ma­nent res­i­dency in their tar­get des­ti­na­tion coun­tries — the US in par­tic­u­lar — is only the start of a new chap­ter in her clients’ lives. Over the years she has be­come more con­cerned with how to help these new im­mi­grants adapt to a so­ci­ety they have only just be­gun to em­brace.

“I want them to get a more in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence in the lo­cal cul­ture and life­style,” said He, who started to host a va­ri­ety of events in the US and in­vite Chi­nese im­mi­grants to func­tions to min­gle with Amer­i­can lead­ers in in­dus­try and pol­i­tics.

“For ex­am­ple, in Los Angeles we’ve hosted a qi­pao (a tra­di­tional Chi­nese dress) party and helped im­mi­grants learn about how to get their chil­dren in­tern­ships at renowned com­pa­nies, and we also took people to a Laker’s game,” she said.

He men­tioned that in March she will be re­ceiv­ing an award from the west coast Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties for her con­tri­bu­tions to the lo­cal Chi­nese, in­clud­ing do­na­tions, bring­ing Chi­nese artists to the US to per­form for over­seas Chi­nese and pro­vid­ing venues for Chi­nese artists in the US to com­mu­ni­cate.

But just mak­ing the over­seas Chi­nese feel more at home in the US may not be enough, He thought.

As her busi­ness ex­panded in the US, He started to re­ceive more in­vi­ta­tions to high pro­file events. But the more events she at­tended, the more she felt that over­seas Chi­nese were still dis­tant from main­stream US so­ci­ety.

“So one of the things I have done is to help the chil­dren in the US,” said He, who has pre­vi­ously been en­gaged in phi­lan­thropy projects mainly tar­get­ing China as the board mem­ber of Shang­hai Soong Ching Ling Foun­da­tion, the Pearl S. Buck Char­i­ta­ble Fund.

He gave $50,000 to the Eisen­hower Foun­da­tion to sup­port the Youth Safe Haven Pro­gram, which aims to pro­vide a se­cure place for poor in­ner city chil­dren who are prone to have more ex­po­sure to crime, drugs and gangs.

“I’m try­ing to en­cour­age my clients and friends to do­nate an­other $50,000. If it fails I will make up the rest to make sure a to­tal of $100,000 is there to help the kids,” said He, who re­ceived the Eisen­hower Foun­da­tion In­ter­na­tional Lead­er­ship Award this month.

“For me, help­ing the Amer­i­can people is not only a good way to give back to the so­ci­ety, but also a good op­por­tu­nity to gain a voice in the US so­ci­ety,” she said. “If they (Amer­i­cans) ask me why we (Chi­nese en­trepreneurs) help them, we then have the chance to be heard.”

Busi­ness is also a way for He to en­gage with the Amer­i­cans.

Ear­lier this year He was awarded a cer­tifi­cate of recog­ni­tion from the City of Cleve­land Mayor’s Of­fice for her con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal econ­omy. In the past few years, her com­pany has helped to raise about $90 mil­lion in cap­i­tal for lo­cal EB-5 im­mi­grant in­vestor projects.

The EB-5 Pro­gram was cre­ated to stim­u­late the US econ­omy through job cre­ation and for­eign in­vest­ment. With a min­i­mum in­vest­ment of $1 mil­lion (or $500,000 in low em­ploy­ment or ru­ral ar­eas), an EB-5 in­vestor must not only cre­ate but also pre­serve at least 10 full-time jobs through the project to gain per­ma­nent US res­i­dency.

“I hope through ac­cept­ing the award more Amer­i­cans will know about how much Chi­nese in­vestors have helped the US econ­omy and cre­ated jobs,” said He, whose com­pany has sup­ported build­ing projects across the US, such as the New York Bar­clays Cen­ter, the Penn­syl­va­nia Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, the Mary­land Live! Casino and Philadel­phia’s Com­cast of­fice build­ing.

In ad­di­tion, He in­vested in Yoyo Chi­nese Inc for more Amer­i­cans to learn about China and the Chi­nese people by learn­ing the lan­guage on­line.

“The more suc­cess­ful you are, the more busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties will come to you. But I only choose to do those that mean some­thing to me and the so­ci­ety,” said He.

Be­cause of her in­ter­est in sub­jects re­lated to Chi­nese im­mi­grants in the US, He, now also an EMBA stu­dent, said that she is try­ing to earn an op­por­tu­nity to learn more about this field in the US.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Linda He (left) is re­ceiv­ing In­ter­na­tional Lead­er­ship Award from Alan Cur­tis (right), pres­i­dent and CEO of The Mil­ton S. Eisen­hower Foun­da­tion in Fe­bru­ary.

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