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Annual Tri-C Culture Shock Festival

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On Thursday, April 6th, we tabled on behalf of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" at the annual "Culture Shock" festival at Tri-C on Pleasant Valley Road in Parma just as we have for the past several years.

Dr. Susan Lohwater, Associate Professor in the English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) Program at the college, is instrumental in putting together this festival each year. We did some research and discovered a Tri-C blog written in April, 2014 but still timely in which Dr. Lohwater said that Culture Shock "is the first step in interesting many of our college-community students and staff in other cultures." In an email written around the same time which a, Dr. Lohwater wrote that an event of this nature, "is the first step in a process to create a climate on campus which promotes understanding and respect among cultures. This is my passion."

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At the 2017 festival, Dr. Lohwater was assisted by Dr. Sara Clark (also of the ESL Program) who showed us where to set up. As it turned out, we were aptly placed right next to the Islamic Center of Cleveland. Throughout the course of the day, we talked to and gave information to students from Burma, Ukraine, and Morocco. We also gave a copy of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way" to Ms. Carmen Cedino who was thrilled to receive it since she has many friends who have immigrated to the United States from other lands. Stopping by to talk to us for a few minutes was Mr. Michael Petit who teaches a class on World Religions at Tri-C.

We couldn't leave our table alone long enough to attend a presentation by Mr. Richard Herman, a fellow immigration attorney, about how immigrants will assist in the creation of many jobs in this country but Dr. Lohwater told us it was quite good.

Keeping us entertained was our friend Mr. Kris Koch, the prominent local DJ whose specialty is international music. We told Mr. Koch that we really liked the 1960's French pop music that he played when we last saw him at the Erie Island Coffee Company in Rocky River at the end of March so he found some more and played it for everyone gathered in the foyer.

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We were able to leave our spot long enough to tour the facilities and inspect the other tables. We were pleased that the students were able to put together exhibits depicting the lifestyle of such countries as Sudan, Nepal, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, India, Russia, Jordan/Palestine, Latin America, and Columbia. There were also people there staffing booths from such socially concerned organizations as U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, Cleveland Peace Action, the Student Peace Alliance Club, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Cleveland American Middle East Organization, and the Chua Vien Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple.

Quite a few of the people tabling wore clothes from their native countries and took part in a fashion show emceed by Mr. Koch as the song"We Are the World" played in the background. Afterwards he said, "We are the world right here at Tri-C. Amazing!"

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Dr. Shirin Dixon, Associate Professor and Coordinator of ESL Program, shared with us a project in which students involved with ESL shared their experiences coming here to the U.S. and what it meant to them. Dr. Dixon smiled as she told us that has known Ms. Margaret W. Wong for years going back to a time when she only had 10 employees. One essay that was posted really moved us and it read in part:

"...I decided to come to the United States. I felt guilty and sad at the same time. Guilty because I was going to leave my family behind and sad because I knew I was going to spend a lot of time without seeing them again. The day of my long adventure, I was so happy because I would be seeing amazing things things in a new country that I'm going to; also I was going to go on an airplane for the first time. When I started on my new journey it was not what I expected to be. I was faced with many obstacles, the first was language, second was meeting new people, and the most important was that I didn't know anyone in this new country that I was heading to. It's been 2 years before I got together with my family again, and after 17 years living in this country, I can say that my journey has been strong, but worth it."

It just so happens that the person who wrote that immigrated here from Puerto Rico but what was written could pertain to foreign-born people of all countries.

 

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC