Reading the news from my home in northern Vietnam, America seemed like a very unwelcoming and dangerous place. When my husband Eric asked me to come to his home in Portage to get married I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect.

However, after meeting my new family and hundreds of neighbors near our home I realized just how special and amazing this country and this city really are.

As a strong, independent, Vietnamese woman I feel like this is a place that people of different ilk can truly feel welcomed. I am elated by just how friendly and generous our neighbors here really are.

I've been invited over for dinner, had long chats about my country, and have been offered to try many new American foods and treats that I've never seen before. It's truly a blessing to have an opportunity to reach for the American dream.

I am at a loss for words at just how lucky I feel every single day that I am here with my new family and husband. They and all of my neighbors have made me feel extremely welcome and I am proud to call Portage my new home.

Gia Shimpach, Portage


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