“I’ve been in San Francisco since 1981,” says Fong, who moved from Hong Kong with his sister to better their opportunity for continued education.
“In high school, I was basically living with a guardian on weekdays and would go stay with my mom’s side of the family on weekends in Alameda (next to Oakland). It was quite exciting to have that exploring time for me.”
Born and raised in Hong Kong when it was a British colony, Fulcan attended an all-boys Catholic school—La Salle College—for eleven years. He was acclimated to big-city living and speaking English was not his challenge, but when he arrived in San Francisco, he had to adapt to a brand-new culture.
“When I came here I was trying to understand different American sports, such as baseball and football. Growing up with soccer was very easy to understand, but learning about baseball statistics, terminologies and football formation and player positions, that took up some time,” he says. “I would sit in front of the TV or listening to the radio to expose myself to what it all meant.”
While Fulcan spoke English growing up, he later learned how various sports terminologies are used in day-to-day slang—such as ‘hey, you’re on deck,’ or ‘you are the quarterback.”
When the time came for curated education to continue, Fulcan’s intrigue in American culture helped lead him to apply to universities up and down the middle part of the country, from Michigan all the way down to Mississippi, he finally decided on Texas Tech majoring in engineering technology (electronics).
“I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Texas Tech first before deciding, so August came and I packed my bags,” he says. “I wasn’t scared until the plane landed in Lubbock—it was interesting for sure! But, it didn’t take long for me to overcome that anxiety and move into the dorms.”
He quickly immersed himself into the student body, participated in facilitated clubs and slang made its way into his vocabulary yet again. This time it wasn’t sports related, though, it was truly the word of the south: “Y’all.”
While Fulcan got an A in culture his freshman year, the same can’t be said for his calculus course. He decided to put his nose to the grindstone and stay the summer and focus on academics, which led him to 2220 Broadway (the original FH Texas Tech chapter house).
“I met a number of FarmHouse members during various campus activities. When I mentioned I planned to attend summer school, I was offered to live in FH during the summer and that’s when I got to meet other FH men, including Rick Barnes (Texas Tech 82),” says Fulcan. “At that time, I didn’t really know what it (FarmHouse) was, but I spent time with them and talking with them more and then rushed.”
“I had a really bad GPA going in, but looking back after I pledged and having all this fun my freshman year, there was a big turnaround for me where I was able to achieve a much higher GPA several semesters in a row. I attribute it back to FarmHouse for its emphasis on academics.”
While Fulcan’s grades improved, eventually leading him to graduate school for engineering, he was able to find a good balance between his social and cultural interests and GPA.
“When I look back at my time at Tech, I would say I was probably one of the few minorities, maybe one of the first Asians in the Greek system, especially one called FarmHouse!” he says. “When we had traditional activities, I would notice members from other fraternities would look at me and kind of be like, ‘Where is this guy from? What’s he doing here?’”
“When we had traditional activities, I would notice members from other fraternities would look at me and kind of be like, ‘Where is this guy from? What’s he doing here?’”
“I think there are people who look at Asians and they think all they do is study and have their own cliques. But I was there, and I showed not only to my FH brothers but others that I was proving that wrong. Being there, I can’t speak for my brothers, but I think I did expose them to the Asian culture a little more.”
Through day-to-day conversation while living in FH, Fulcan became more appreciative of the farming life. He also experienced the farming culture when he was invited to the farms of FH brothers in the panhandle. Who gave him a real life experience of watching his brothers waking up before sun rise to herd the cattle on horseback or ride ATVs.
And exposure he brought—from serving as vice president to pledge educator to welcoming an Australian student to stay in the house over the summer as house manager.
After completing his bachelor’s degree and one semester of graduate school at Tech, Fulcan attended and graduated with his master’s in engineering management and MBA from Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo. Fulcan helped start a colony at Cal-Poly and was inducted into the FarmHouse College of Founders in 1996.
Since 1995, Fulcan has been back in the Bay Area. He was employed by AT&T and IBM, and is currently a senior cloud/data center solution architect for Intel.
Fulcan thinks the leadership experience he obtained in FH has enabled him to work well with co-workers and customers.
“Leadership is about continued learning, and one needs to lead by example.”
He also stays in tuned with FarmHouse’s cultural diversity, by reading up on Pearls & Rubies for example.
“I think it’s good to see that, in the past 25 years, FarmHouse is recruiting with more diversity. More is needed for people to see that we are here breathing the same air and trying to do good for society.”
Fulcan travels to many different countries on business and for leisure on a regular basis.
He believes there is plenty of room for every individual to learn about other cultures.
“I encourage everyone to immerse themselves with locals, because at the end of the day, an exposure to something new can bring lasting relationships, unforgettable memories and an understanding of culture.”