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Out & About in Cleveland

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Cleveland Asian Festival

On Saturday and Sunday, May 17th and 18th, Margaret W. Wong and Associates tabled at the 5th Annual Asian Festival in Asiatown at East 27th and Payne Avenue in Cleveland. Perhaps the following quotes from the citations which appeared in the festival program are the best way to describe the Cleveland Asian Festival (CAF). U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown wrote that "the Cleveland Asian Festival exemplifies the importance of community. I would like to commend CAF as an invaluable cultural resource not only for Cleveland but for the entire state as evidenced by the nearly 40,000 attendees who made it to last year's event. Those in attendance were able to experience the richness of Asian Pacific culture through traditional dance, martial arts demonstrations, games and children's activities, entertainment and a health fair."

U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge wrote that the CAF is "an event that highlights the contribution and the integral role of culture, diversity, economic growth and civic life of the Asian Pacific Islander. The collaboration of numerous organizations representing several ethnic communities to carry out this festival in the heart of Cleveland's AsiaTown during the Asian Pacific Heritage month is an example of the continuity of the community and its citizens. The CAF has brought an enhanced understanding of the Asian Pacific islander culture, history, and people to the residents of our region and it has heightened awareness of the traditions of the traditions of Ohio's Asian Pacific islander community. The contributions of all citizens to the growth of Northeast Ohio are points of recognition and sources of pride."

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson wrote that the "Asian American community truly has a deep passion for and commitment to the City of Cleveland and is dedicated to developing strong relations between all of the diverse cultures that make our city unique."

Unfortunately due to the rain and cold weather on Saturday, only 10,000 people attended the festival on that day but on Sunday, which was sunny and warm, perhaps 30,000 people would have attended according to the estimate of our friend Johnny Wu, one of the festival founders.

Fortunately for us, the table of Margaret W. Wong and Associates was located inside the plaza so we were comfortable the entire time. We handed out a lot of information as well as many pens, letter openers, tangerines, and small tote bags and also sold several copies of Ms. Wong's book "The Immigrant's Way".

We were very glad when more than a few people asked for help with immigration problems and were especially buoyed when old friends like U.S. Congresswoman Maria L. Fudge, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Barker, and former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid stopped by our table to say hello.

Moreover, our very dear friend Sister Rita Harwood stopped by and told us that she is now organizing a walk on behalf of immigration reform/stopping deportations that is scheduled for downtown Cleveland on July 12th. We definitely plan to take part in this affair.

But what really mattered the most to us were when people who we had helped in the past or knew someone that we had helped on matters pertaining to immigration stopped by such as Kyanhtway Line who we helped obtain his green card, a woman named Nilza whose husband we had assisted over a three year period and whose case was finally resolved last week; and a person named Marvela whose brother we assisted in immigrating to the U.S. from Jamaica.

These people all said how appreciative they were that we were there for them at a time when we were most needed.

Out & Aboutimwong