Summer Xia’s journey from east Asia to downtown Cleveland veered in a direction he never would have guessed while growing up in Dalian, China.
It was the winter of 2013. Xia (MS ’15), who’d earned his bachelor’s degree from Beijing Sport University, moved to C-U to pursue his master’s in sports management at the UI.
But the language barrier and lack of work history here made it a struggle, particularly when it came time to look for a part-time sports job to pad his resume.
With a friend’s help, he was fortunate to find something at the UI Ice Arena. Without it, he says three-plus years later, he wouldn’t be where he is today — manager of global partnership development for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Everything was a learning experience for a kid like me who is from out of the country,” he says.
“As a skate checker, I had to learn the U.S. shoe size.
“As a cashier, I had to learn the U.S. bills, coins and face values.
“As a café worker, I had to learn how to prepare pretzels, nachos and other food that I’ve never seen nor eaten in my life and remember the name of all the candies I’ve never tasted.
“As a hockey scorekeeper, I had to learn all the hockey rules because I did not grow up watching this sport.
“Most important of all, I had to learn how to communicate with customers, colleagues and supervisors in English, which was very different from the communications with my classmates and professors in the class.
“I learned a lot and I worked a lot. Many times after work, I just caught the midnight MTD back to the dorm, physically exhausted but mentally feeling accomplished and proud.”