'We ended up being displaced and were put into refugee camps'
Get to know... Aikong See
Aikong See is co-owner of Hope Central and sales manager of TEXTEijL, a screen printing and embroidery company. He's a volunteer with local organizations including The Landing and Dorothy Day House.
He answered questions recently about himself, his life's journey and interests outside of his professional and volunteer roles.
Are you originally from the Rochester area?
I’m originally from Chiang Rai, Thailand. My family came here because of the border war between Thailand and Laos in from 1987-88, so we ended up being displaced and were put into refugee camps. At that time, Catholic Charities Organization was sponsoring families to give them an opportunity for a better life and hope for the future. We got that opportunity.
What do you like best about Rochester?
I love Rochester because it’s a place where there’s excellence in the healthcare, diversity in community and resources for everyone. It’s a city that gives hope to those who are sick, immigrants, homeless, poor, and underprivileged.
What changes do you think still need to be made?
I believe there still are issues within the community because of certain ideologies. Those ideologies have caused tribalism and from tribalism to hate and hate to division. I’m a big believer that each one of us is like a single part or unit in a car. It’s when we understand our purpose in our world, connect with one another, and work together that the engine of humanity is able to start. We’re able to then move forward as society.
What do you do for a living?
I am the co-owner of Hope Central and Sales Manager for Texteijl Screen Printing and Embroidery. At Hope Central I’m working with local nonprofits to create apparel and promotional items to sell in the store, and 100% of the proceeds goes back to them. Also, we’re doing a community podcast there and eventually empowerment area in the basement. As a sales manager at Texteijl, I’m looking for ways to serve businesses in their branding. We do anything from apparel to promotional items and lighted signs. I chose to do all this because I believe in our people and businesses and serve them in providing apparel, promotional items, and signs will give them something to be proud of in their brand.
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to pursue the same career?
Surround yourself with people who believe in you and you’ll find your purpose. Once you find it, work hard and give yourself grace through the process.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment and what has been your greatest challenge you've had to overcome?
My greatest accomplishments have been overcoming drugs in high school and early college years. If I wouldn’t have overcome it, I would have become an addict. My greatest challenge has been finding my purpose because it took a lot of trials, failing, and pain to find who I am and what I am supposed to be on earth for.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
One thing that people don’t know about me is that I love tattoos and Ispahan (French dessert).
Get to know ... is a feature in Rochester In Color, a special section within the Post Bulletin's website that profiles people of color in our community. Find it at www.postbulletin.com/rochester-in-color . If you know of someone who should be featured, send us an email at email@example.com