Above / Lisa Liu, Bruce Liu and their two daughters recently visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy Nicor Gas)
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate more than 30 unique nationalities and ethnic groups that make up this vast community.
Bruce Liu is a Naperville resident and an Energy Efficiency Program Analytics Supervisor at Nicor Gas. He immigrated from China to the United States nearly 15 years ago as an 18-year-old college freshman at Iowa State University.
“My dad asked me about studying abroad and I had never really thought about it,” said Liu. “I knew I wanted to go to the U.K. or the U.S. and after I did some research, I knew I wanted to go to the U.S. for college. I wanted to be in an American college town.”
Transition from life in Asia to Midwest was difficult for Bruce
“I had no family or friends in the U.S., so I had to do everything on my own,” he said. “I remember taking the bus to Walmart when it was minus 10 degrees and snowing to get groceries.”
While Mandarin is his first language, he started learning English as a student in China and took a six-month course before starting college.
“I would go to class all day and then go home at night to watch movies with English subtitles or read books to immerse myself. I always had a dictionary next to me so I could look up what words meant,” he said. “Today, I just look them up on my smartphone!”
After graduating from Iowa State, Liu moved to the East Coast and earned his master’s degree at the University of Maryland – College Park and got his job at a small auditing firm in the area. During this time, he traveled back and forth to the Chicago area to see his now-wife Lisa, who is Chinese American.
“My wife grew up in Springfield, Illinois,” he said. “We may look the same, but our backgrounds are totally different.”
Today, he and Lisa are married and have two children that are three years old and 10 months old.
As a family living in Naperville, they enjoy celebrating Chinese and American holidays.
“We celebrate Chinese New Year, but we celebrate Christmas too,” said Liu. “It’s a combination of holidays and we appreciate each other’s cultures.”
At Nicor Gas, Bruce Liu is currently the vice president of the SOAR Illinois chapter, an employee resource group at Southern Company Gas that works to recruit, retain and advance Asian American and Pacific Islander employees within the company.
In his role, Liu helps the chapter president organize five to six events a year and increase engagement with new and existing members.
Story and photos submitted by Allison Erdman Gregoire, Corporate Communications, for Nicor Gas.