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72nd Annual One World Day Celebration

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On Sunday, August 27th, we, of course, spent the day tabling on behalf of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" at the 72nd Annual "One World Day" celebration at the Cleveland Culutural Gardens. This year, as opposed to last year, the weather was just right and an early estimation of the turnout pegged it around 30,000 people which was maybe 10,000 more attendees than last year.

Our table, itself, was located directly across from the Centennial Main Stage and we want to extend our appreciation to Mr. Rohit Shastry, the "One World Day" volunteer who worked hard to help us set up and was always nearby should we have needed anything. We also enjoyed tabling next to "Berlitz Languages, Inc." on one side of us and "OCA Cleveland" the other but not too far from the "Green Ribbon Coalition", "Clevelandpeople.com" and "Global Cleveland".

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After we set up, we were in need of a cop of coffee so we wandered over to the Croatian Garden where we enjoyed one with Ms. Branka Malinar and, later in the day, we hiked over the the Vietnamese Garden where we were served an excellent bowl of veggies and rice by our friend, Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan.

Most of the time we said "hello" to those who walked by such as Mr. Feroze Hussain who immigrated to the United States many years ago from Pakistan and has referred several of his friends to Ms. Margaret W. Wong over the years. We also answered several questions pertaining to immigration and passed out quite a few of our bright red letter openers.

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As the day progressed we watched the "Parade of Flags" march by our table and listened/watched performances taking place across the street by such groups as the "Kultura Filipiniana Dance Troupe", "Moises Borges Brazilian Jazz', "Sho Jo Ji Japanese Dancers" and the "Murphy Irish Dancers".

We were touched when the leader of the Japanese Dancers spoke for a moment about how, during World War II, her family was forced to live in an internment camp on the west coast. After the war, however, her family moved to Cleveland which was very welcoming to former internment camp residents.

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Fortunately, we didn't have to go too far from our booth to listen to the speeches given during the opening ceremonies including one given by Dr. Wael Khoury, the new President of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation, who urged everyone to visit as many of the Gardens on this day as possible in order that the realize the energy of all of the communities represented there.

To no surprise, another speaker was Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson (who always makes a special effort to attend "One World Day") who welcomed those who were soon to be sworn in as new U.S. citizens because "the diversity of this country and city is what makes us strong."

During the Naturalization Ceremony, twenty-six people were sworn in as new U.S. citizens who came here from such countries Bosnia, Bhutan, Israel, Canada, Egypt, China, Sudan, Ukraine, Albania, Philippines, Greece, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, South Africa, India, and the UK.

They were sworn in by the Honorable Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. of the U.S. District Court who spoke for a couple of moments at the beginning of the ceremonies and recognized the United States as a beacon of hope and opportunity largely because of what it promised to all of us by our great Constitution. He went on to say that the U.S. wants and welcomes people from all over the world for their special talents and their diversity and so, even though they are pledging their loyalties to the U.S., they must never give up their heritage, customs, or cultural identity. Judge Oliver acknowledged that the U.S. wasn't perfect (he had lived through the civil rights struggles of the 1950's and 1960's) so it was the duty and responsibility of the new citizens to register to vote and exercise their right of free speech to curb injustices. Subsequently, he contended that one of the pillars of this great country is that no particular race, religion or gender has a monopoly of talent and no one is entitled to a monopoly of resources. Judge Oliver then sworn in the new citizens and our friend Mr. Joe Cimperman, President of "Global Cleveland" was on hand to present all of them with a "welcome packet" containing information which will no doubt prove to be helpful.

Later, Dr. Khoury spoke once more, this time about the planned "Centennial Peace Plaza" that was scheduled to be built just where the Centennial Main Stage was now standing. Dr. Khoury said that he hoped that the Plaza would prove to be "a gathering place for people all over the world in Cleveland."

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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