Elizabeth Tu Hoffman ('76)

Elizabeth Tu Hoffman ('76)

1. Please tell us a little about yourself!

I have lived in Cincinnati since 1982.  I was born in NYC in 1953; grew up in Taipei, Taiwan (1959-65); I went to junior high and high school in Bellevue, WA.  Then I attended and graduated from  WC in 1976 with a B.A.in Chinese Studies.

2. Why did you decide to become a Chinese Studies major? How did it shape your experience at Wellesley?

I chose Chinese Studies because I was good in languages and chose Chinese language because I was previously educated in Taipei, Taiwan from 1959 - 1966 when my father worked for Civil Air Transport.

I was eager to learn “adult” Chinese.  Wellesley was hard for me. So I did not double major.  Outside my major, I was an average student, at best.

Chinese Studies major solidified my identity as a unique bi-lingual American born Chinese, where my Chinese was “near native.” People often asked when did I immigrate to the US and were very surprised to learn that I am an “ABC.”  My language professor was Helen T. Lin and she work me hard outside of the classroom and made me a very competent Chinese language speaker and writer.  My specialty is sight translation.  I never meant to be a translator but I fell into this trade along with export trade, as I tried to find my “niche” in the market post graduation when the China and East Asian market was “hot” in the late 70s early 80s.  

Being a competent Chinese language speaker allowed me to get involved in export trade; become chair of a Cincinnati-Liuzhou sister city organization for 30+ years.  I acted like a small state department inviting/hosting Liuzhou sister city guests and delegations to Cincinnati.  I also became a professional translator and interpreter in Cincinnati.  My bi-lingual and bi-cultural experiences has allowed me to enjoy both cultures at home and across the “pond.”  I have traveled to China over 100 times since 1979 and made many life long friends.  Since 1993 we have helped the Liuzhou government trained over 575,000 Liuzhou students to speak American English by retraining over 75 ESL Liuzhou teachers.  While I understand Chinese logic very well and am fluent in Chinese, I am American first. 

3. What are you doing now?

I helped found Cin-Liu Sister City Committee and became chair until 2018.  I finally retired from professional volunteerism - from being its chair after 30+ years of service 24/7.  I don’t export anymore.  And I am retired from professional translation and interpreting.  

I still own Willow Ridge Plastics, Inc.  WRP is a manufacture of fossil fuel-based oxo-biodegradable plastic additives which make plastic “degrade” in the landfill and anywhere else where there is oxygen and bacteria.  If you are interested the website is:  www.willowridgeplastics.com.  We are an OEM business whose clientele are the plastic converters - factories who make plastic packaging material or anything that needs to be oxo-biodegradable.  So one would not see our company logo.  Our motto is:  We Make Plastic Rust.

Since 1983, I was actively involved in fundraising to support the Chinese Department’s curriculum, in honor of Helen T. Lin. There is sufficient endowment to ensure a good steady income for the department’s curriculum enhancement.  So I am now supporting Wellesley’s Freedom Project.  Recently, I donated the Freedom Project’s library.

4. How has your Wellesley experience and your major influenced your life/career after college?

The Wellesley experience made me the best mom I could ever be for my daughters.  My oldest one is developmentally delayed.  I was able to do research and find alternative solutions to help her become the best version of herself.  Alternative solutions included both Eastern and Western medicines and treatments. I hope that I have also been a good example to my other daughter, Virginia ’09, whose career is focused in art.  She resides in Sunnyside, NY.

Wellesley taught me a “standard” of excellence that has influenced me in anything I have chosen to do.  After I graduated,  I sold women's lingerie ; I was a travel agent for China travel; I worked as a manufacturers’ representative; and I was a professional translator and interpreter.  I enjoyed getting that “Oh!!….you went to Wellesley College…no wonder...” look of appreciation.    To date, our committee has won 7 international awards for our sister city exchanges, all of which is attributable to my excellent Chinese language training at W.C. under Prof. Helen T. Lin’s tutelage.

I admit though, I never thought I would get married because I was trying to build a “career” that I was told I could get as a Wellesley alumna.  However, I learned as I got older,  that I should not find the “perfect job” but endeavor to have the “most satisfying life,” which included a job and perhaps being a good mom and wife.    I must admit that I am a very lucky person having it all  because my birthday is 8-8-53 (year of the Snake.)  If you are Chinese, or know anything about Chinese culture, you would have to agree with me, yes?