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Latino Business League Community Expo; Opening ceremony of The Other Face; Annual Summer Social Barbecue; Suve Pidu; Concert at Rusin Cultural Garden; ICC-WIN Picnic Party

Mr. Al Carranza, Presidentof the "Latino Business League", extended to "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" an invitation to table at its Community Business Expo held on the Goodwill Campus on 9th Street Southwest in Canton on Friday, July 21st, so we decided to take him up on the offer because it would be a great opportunity to connect with some new people and see people that we had met when we tabled at this very event in 2016.

Once we arrived we tabled not too far away from Ms. Veronica Cook-Euell, Supplier Diversity Program Manager/Procurement Dept. at Kent State University, and Ms. Monique Cox-Moore, Statewide Minority Outreach Coordinator for the Ohio Secretary of State,who remembered us because we tabled right next to both of them the previous year.

We got to meet Mr. Laurie Miller and Mr. Brian Millard of "Echoing Connections of Stark County", a day rehabilitation program, who showed us photos of some beautiful artwork done by the program participants.

We also conversed with Mayor Tom M. Bernabei of Canton and Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry of Massillon about the outreach to various ethnic groups in their communities. Mayor Catazaro-Perry told us that there are a great many people in the area who have immigrated to the United States from Guatamala and she was considering the possibility of having a concert in a local park to bring everyone together to have a good time.

The purpose of the "Latino Business League" is "promoting the advancement and development of the Latino community of Northeast Ohio by identifying, establishing, and supporting small business opportunities as well as facilitating cultural and educational exchanges with the community at large in Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties."

Therefore, throughout the day Mr. Carranza invited people from various governmental agencies to speak about the services that they provide to budding entrepreneurs as well as several local Hispanic businesspersons to speak about their success so far and prospects for the future. Among these were representatives of "Agavero Bar and Grill" a local restaurant who prepared tacos for lunch. They even made a couple of veggie tacos for us. Another person who spoke was the owner of "Vega's Garage" who said that some would say that his business was in a bad vicinity but "if you look after people then they will take care of you" and he enjoys excellent relations with his neighbors and customers.

We, ourselves, got to address the attendees for a moment so we talked about the services that our law firm provides and Ms. Wong's background which we termed "an American success story."

Afterwards several people walked over to us to discuss their own experiences including Mr. Waheed Bhuyan, Investment Advisor Representative with "Primerica", who told us about how his own family immigrated to the U.S. from Bengali in the early 1970's before he was born and a young man from Honduras who spent two years in a detention center so naturally he was familiar and approved of the work that Ms. Margaret W. Wong does.

Soon it was time to return to Cleveland because we had an evening affair to attend but before we left we stopped by the "Fifth Third Bank" table to chat with Ms. India Jenkins, Assistant Vice President/Financial Center Manager II, who told us that her mother used to take her to various ethnic festivals in Cleveland quite frequently when she was growing up. Although she very much enjoyed them very much at the time, she now considers them "mind opening" because she gained knowledge and understanding of cultures other than her own.

The affair that we had to get back to Cleveland to attend was the opening ceremony of "The Other Face" an international art exhibition coordinated by our good friend Ms. Jamila Alhaib at the 78th Street Studios. This exhibition will run until August 14th of this year and features the works of over 40 (by our count) international artists from such countries Lebanon, Morocco, Holland, Switzerland, Sudan, Canada, the U.S., Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. We strongly urge our readers to attend.

The exhibition was sponsored by our good friend Mr. Pierre Bejjani, the President of C.A.M.E.O. and the publisher of "Profile News." Mr. Bejjani told us that he believed that this event was very important because it gave the U.S. public a chance to see a different face of the Middle Easterner community than what is often featured in the media.

Accordingly, we got to meet a few of the artists whose works were on display who included Mr. Ali Jebur (Iraq), Mr. Usama Afnan (Sudan), Mr. Abdelhay Adayday (Morocco), Mr. Rachid Mortaki (Morocco), Dr. Ikram Al Ashkar (Lebanon), Ms. Nisrine Achkar (Lebanon), Ms. Hiam A. Hassanieh (Lebanon), and Mr. Jasim Mohammad (Iraq).

Several of the artists we tooked to had questions about their visas or those of friends/family, and we are glad that our co-worker, Mr. George Koussa, who immigrated to the United States from Syria, was also on hand to answer them.

Each of the artists received a citation from the Cleveland City Council (arranged by Councilperson Brian Cummins, Ward 14) which read in part, "this council takes great pleasure in welcoming you to the City of Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A., and hopes that your visit is both pleasant and rewarding."

The next day was Saturday, July 22nd, and it rained off and on throughout most of the day.

Subsequently, it was raining when we arrived at the Forest Picnic Area at the North Chagrin Reservation to spend a little time at the "Annual Summer Social Barbecue" put on by the Greater Cleveland Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Cleveland Chinese Entrepreneur Association wherein the official greeting was given by Ms. Su He and Mr. Yuxin Wang who acknowledged and made good use of the weather as he wished, "may the harmony of the rain bring forth taste to our barbecue."

It seemed like his wish was granted because everyone seemed to love the lamb kebabs and we had several helpings of the Chinese cold noodles.

We visited with several people there including Mr. Renjun Bao, the Co-Founder and President of the Cleveland Chinese Entrepreneur Association, and a young man named David who has been in Cleveland studying to be a missionary and soon scheduled to return to China, his homeland. In addition, we met a law student from China who has only been in Cleveland for about two weeks now and had just seen his first baseball game the previous evening.

Later on Saturday, we drove to Mantua to attend a summer party or "suve pidu" put on by those associated with the Estonian Cultural Garden. This gathering took place at "Tubalkain's Farm" which is the home of Mr. Toomas and Ms. Paula Tubalkain who we have talked to several times at Estonian affairs over the past several years. It didn't matter if it rained there or not because there was a barn big enough to accommodate the 20 to 30 people who attended with no problem at all.

We were told that this outing was actually an extension of the "Victory Day" commemoration that we had attended at the Estonian Garden on June 25th because they couldn't have a bonfire at the Gardens but they could certainly have one here at "Tubalkain's Farm" and one was planned for after darkness fell.

Another reason for everyone coming together was the celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of our good friends, Mr. Aavo and Ms. Erika Puussaar. Mr. Puussaar joyfully kidded us when he said that one of the reasons that their marriage has succeeded is that, because he is an engineer of electronics and very technically versed, he is in charge of sending our and checking all of the emails that the couple receives thus there can be no secrets between them.

At our request, Mr. and Mrs. Puussaar posed for a photo and they looked so happy that we believe that, emails or no emails, there are no secrets between them.

On Sunday, July 23rd, there was no sign of rain (although the humidity was a bit tough) so we went to the Rusin Cultural Garden on East Blvd. to attend what we thought would be an accordion concert by Mr. Tom Katrenich who has entertained all over Eastern Europe. In fact, Mr. Katrenich told us that his first international trip was in 1980 when he traveled to Poland when the Solidarity movement was in its beginning stages and he thus had an experience that was both exciting and hopeful.

Before the day's proceedings started, we seated ourselves next to Mr. Len and Ms. Cynthia Ringenbach who had a book of photographs of the "11th Carpatho-Rusyn Vatra" that we attended last June 3rd in Burton.

As we wrote earlier, what Mr. Katrenich offered was more than just a concert because he taught us to sing several folk songs in the Carpatho-Rusyn language so that we could partake as he played the accordion. He explained the history and meaning of each song and even invited everyone up to dance to a couple of them and patiently showed us how.

He explained to us that many such songs start off with one or two verses and the rest are added according to the region in which they are sung and the quality of life there.

Once again we were made aware that the Rusins have no defined country; they are all about a language, a culture, and a people.


Our last event for Sunday was the "ICC-WIN Picnic Party" which took place at the home of Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan on the west side of Cleveland.

Many, many people turned out and Ms. Ryan's patio was packed with people from ICC-WIN as well as other prominent local organizations like the Cleveland Cultural Gardens and Global Cleveland.

We really commend Mr. Yee Luong and Mr. Vinh Nguyen for working as hard as they did to fry enough chicken to serve all who wanted some.

Of course, we knew the majority of the people there and had even seen Mr. Wenzhu Sun, from Global Cleveland, and her husband, Mr. Karlton Dardio , the previous day at the Greater Cleveland Chinese Chamber of Commerce/Cleveland Chinese Entrepreneur Association barbecue.

It was largely a time for friends to interact but there was a short but touching program in which a special tribute was paid to Ms. Ryan (who worked so hard to organize this affair as well as other projects on behalf of Cleveland's international community over the years) by Dr. George McCarthy, President of the Friendship Foundation of American-Vietnamese who came to Cleveland from Phoenix to attend this event because he loves and admires Ms. Ryan so much.

Other moving testimonies were paid by such people as Ms. Mari Galindo-DaSilva, Mr. Ken Kovach, Mr. Pierre Bejjani, Mr. Mehmet Gencer, Mr. Asim Datta, and Ms. Jazmin Long.

Certainly, Mr. Joe Meissner took the floor for a moment and talked about the plans for the Vietnamese Cultural Garden that is a project that he and Ms. Ryan are devoted to. Thus we learned that the "Phase One" stage of the project will include a statue of a Vietnamese woman symbolizing all of the women of the world.

Perhaps the presentation that was the most inspiring came from Mr. Evan Powell, a young CWRU student who had (along with some friends) undertaken the not-too-easy task of making cleaning up Ms. Ryan's patio to make it guest-friendly for the day. Mr. Powell talked about how a Vietnamese student organization will soon be formed at CWRU and how he and his friends have also taken part in the upkeep of the Vietnamese Garden site and its "One World Day" activities. Mr. Powell explained that they want to be involved in global initiatives that are going on outside of campus and made us all feel very positive about the future.



Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC