By Sarina Deb
Having grown up as a Fuzhounese American in Wisconsin, Jason Lin ’20 channeled his experiences into founding Fuzhou, America, a nonprofit that aims to foster community and mentorship among young Americans with roots in Fuzhou, China.
Like many Americans with Fuzhounese roots, Lin’s family immigrated to the United States in the 1990s and immediately started working in the restaurant business. Lin described working in his parent’s restaurant for 15-20 hours every week while juggling school and other commitments, explaining that this lifestyle was “all that many Fuzhounese Americans knew.”
“Growing up, if there were mentors for people who looked like me who could help me, I would have gotten more exposure to the professional field and gained an understanding of different academic disciplines,” Lin said. “But this was not available.”
About 10 years ago, Lin joined a Facebook group for Fuzhounese Americans, where a few members of the group attempted to start the first iteration of what is now Fuzhou, America. Though the original organization did not end up taking off, Lin said he was still able to connect with friends from across the country who were interested in working toward creating a stronger community among Fuzhounese Americans.
Lin remained passionate about connecting the community after coming to Stanford.
“Early junior year, I was thinking to myself, I am so grateful to be at Stanford,” Lin said. “But so many people from my immigrant group don’t have the opportunity to go to a place like Stanford and end up staying at their parent’s restaurant because they don’t know where to get the information to gain exposure to professional fields.”
So Lin set out to rebuild the organization.
“I tapped into that Facebook group, and we re-assembled and refined the nonprofit,” Lin said.
Because Lin had never started a nonprofit before, he turned to Stanford alumni mentors.
“They gave me really insightful advice on understanding the market, our value proposition and why there might be a need for this non-profit,” Lin told The Daily.
Fuzhou, America officially launched last year, offering community-building through social events and a mentorship program. Since its launch, Fuzhou, America has grown to have more than 500 likes on its Facebook page, according to Lin.
The mentorship program seeks to match college students with professionals who can provide them with resources and opportunities they might not otherwise have, Lin said.
“There was a recent Fuzhounese American college graduate who reached out to me who has been working at his parent’s restaurant for most of his life,” Lin said. “He didn’t know how to break into the American white-collar professional world, how to set up informational interviews with people, or how to write a resume and send thank-you emails. I helped him out and he ended up getting a job at FoxxCon.”
In about five years, Lin hopes to expand Fuzhou, America to offer scholarships for high school mentees, and to launch a branch of the organization in every major American city and university.
“We want to be the non-profit that speaks and tells the stories of the Fuzhounese American experience,” Lin said. “We also want to acknowledge that this experience is very diverse, under the larger umbrella narrative of impoverished Chinese people who came to America in the 1990s.”
Contact Sarina Deb at sdeb7 ‘at’ stanford.edu.