"I came here to study English as a student. I wanted to study and improve my English, then maybe choose a course and get some qualifications to go back to China with and get a decent job with better provisions. In China, if you can speak English it’s much better for your future.
I came here in 2000 and it was relatively easy for me to find a job. The job itself was hard for me because I didn’t speak any English at all. I could say ‘hello, how are you?’, ‘what is your name’ and that was it. It was very, very basic. But I found a job in a fast food restaurant. It was a cleaning job, and I could do it even though I had no English and couldn’t communicate. I could then support myself.
A few years later I met a man in a trade union who helped me after I was unfairly sacked from a job in a security company. My life changed when I met him. He mentioned that a lot of Chinese people who didn’t speak English very well had been coming to him looking for help and support. In 2005, I offered to volunteer helping the Chinese community as by then I could speak both English and Chinese.
I applied for a job with an organization that I had built a relationship with while working in the Trade Union and I got the job.
Visas are the biggest issue for non-EU migrants in Ireland. My wife and I had been offered new jobs but because we were having difficulty getting our visas renewed we thought we would have to go back to China. We were not willing to become undocumented. I told my new boss our issue and he said ‘If we can help you get it would you like to stay in Ireland and continue working for us?’ I told him if he could solve the visa issue, we would of course stay but if not, we would go back to China. It took a while, but my family and I obtained working visas. I have set up my family here, my wife is here, my child is here and he’s Irish actually, being born here. It would be a big change for us to move back to China now."