City’s friendliness provides quick transition

ary Ge and his wife, Elisa Wang, were accustomed to moving, but neither thought their life’s journey would bring them to Columbus.

The couple moved from Shanghai, China, to the United States in 2010, after Wang was admitted to the Marriott School of Management’s Master of Business Administration program at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

A year later, they moved to Columbus temporarily when Wang received a three-month internship with Cummins, Inc., but returned to Provo as soon as she was finished.

“My first impression of Columbus was that it is a very traditional city,” said Ge, 32. “And seems to have a lot of history.”

When his wife was offered a full-time position here as a sourcing manager with Cummins in 2012, Ge applied to IUPUC and was accepted.

The former sales manager is currently a full-time student at IUPUC, working toward a bachelor’s degree in business

management. He is set to graduate this year.

Since relocating to Columbus, the couple has also welcomed their daughter, Sarah. Now 8 months old, she has become the couple’s primary focus.

Much of the family’s free time is spent at their home near Southside Elementary, having friends over, cooking traditional Chinese meals and playing with Sarah.

When it is comfortable walking weather, however, you will find the couple walking the People Trails, Ge said.

And, of course, wandering about the city checking out the architecture is fun, too, said Wang, 30.

A favorite spot is the colorful alleyway that houses Soups by Design in the 400 block of Washington Street, she said.

“There is a diverse style of architecture here,” Wang said. “We don’t know much about architecture, but we have found there are impressive places.”

Although adjusting to a new environment takes time, friendliness demonstrated by people in the city has made their journey to Columbus much easier, Wang said.

“It’s very different here from our life in China,” Wang said.

“Working in Shanghai is like New York or Chicago,” she said. “People basically don’t talk to each other. But here, you have people you don’t even know who smile at you and offer their help.”

Ge admits that learning the English language has been the most challenging part of acclimating to life in the United States.

“When we first moved here, we didn’t have any friends,” Ge said. “I didn’t speak English very well and I’m kind of shy when it comes to talking to people.”

For Wang, being unable to spend much time outdoors has been difficult. The harsh winter hasn’t helped, she said.

“I miss being outdoors, but we are both busier now than we were before,” Wang said.

Above all, the biggest adjustment has been being away from family in China.

“We call family back home,” Wang said. “Our parents are at an age where they don’t use computers, so we don’t get to talk to them very often.”

The couple has met many friends while attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And it’s those friendships that have helped make life easier for Ge and Wang.

“We have many friends who have helped us out, especially while I was pregnant and after Sarah was born,” Wang said. “We didn’t know we could make so many friends in church.”

One aspect of the couple’s relationship has been a learning experience for others.

“In China, the wife does not use her husband’s name,” Wang said. “So when we are out, we use Ge. But it’s interesting to see people’s reactions who do not realize that is customary for our culture.”

She encourages other newcomers to Columbus to be active and look for ways to make friends.

“What helps me to adjust is having an open mind to go out and meet people,” Wang said. “Columbus is a friendly town to settle down in and have a family. We have no plans to move.”

Gary Ge, Elisa Wang

Moved from: Provo, Utah

Originally from: Shanghai, China

New home: Columbus

Father: Gary Ge, 32, full-time student at IUPUC

Mother: Elisa Wang, 30, sourcing manager, Fuel Systems — Engine Business Global Purchasing for Cummins, Inc.

Children: Daughter, Sarah, 8 months.