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2018 Annual "Culture Shock" festival

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On Wednesday, April 5th, we tabled on behalf of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" at the 2018 annual "Culture Shock" festival which took place in the Galleria of the Western Campus of Cuyahoga Community College.

This annual event, which is primarily organized by Professors Susan Lohwater and Sara Clark of the ESL Department, could best be described, as a learning experience about the diverse cultures in the campus, if not Northeast Ohio, community.

Accordingly, there were tables showcasing the geography, lifestyle, arts and clothing of such locales as Japan, India, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Guatemala, Israel, Palestine, Latin America,Puerto Rico, and Ukraine. All of tables these were staffed by students and/or faculty whose families, if not themselves, were from these places.

Different community/campus organizations also tabled there like the Council of Islamic Relations (CAIR), Hungarian Heritage Museum, Student Peace Alliance, Lambda GSA, Cleveland Peace Action, Stone Creed Grove (representing the Druid faith), Tzu Chi Foundation, African-American Genealogical Society, and the Cuyahoga Community College Black American Council.

Along these lines, our own table was next to that of our friend, Ms. Lisa Wong, representing both OCA Greater Cleveland Chapter and the Cleveland Asian Festival.

In addition, there was the "My Journey to America" contest in which some 20 international students made posters that told of their native lands and why/how they came to the United States. We don't recall who won but we are sure it was a close vote.

Of course, Mr. Kris Koch, a D.J. who specializes in international refrains, was there to furnish the music and, as is the case each year, a colorful, multicultural fashion show took place to the tune of Mr. Koch's melodies.

As for ourselves, we handed out several copies of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way" including one to a man who wanted to explore these issues for his own knowledge but an hour later he returned and asked for another copy because he thought it would be an excellent primer for his relative in Europe who was planning on immigrating to the United States in the hopefully not-too-distant future. 

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Each year "Culture Shock" features a keynote speaker or a panel (our colleague Mr. George Koussa took part in a discussion last year) and in this case the speaker of the day was Ms. Chrissy Stonebreaker-Martinez, Co-Coordinator of the "Interreligious Task Force on Central America" (IRTF) who we know quite well. Ms. Stonebreaker-Martinez talked about the work of her organization and how she came to the realization that all social justice issues (i.e. the economy, the environment, civil liberties) were interrelated and must all be addressed in all countries of the world including Latin America and the Middle East. 

In terms of immigration, Ms. Stonebreaker-Martinez indicated that the ultimate goal of the IRTF has been to improve conditions in impoverished, authoritarian countries so there will not be an impetus to immigrate to the United States out of fear. Lately, however the IRTF has been at the forefront of the immigrant rights struggle as it has organized or taken part in actions on behalf of the DACA students and to protest the Muslim ban. 

Another speaker was Mr. Benjamin Jakubowski, President of the Student Peace Alliance, who talked for a moment about the actual term "culture shock" and its implications. He noted that this a a real challenge for many international students since they are in a locale far away from their homes, families, and comfort zones. Subsequently, they are struggling with language and cultural barriers. He went on to ask that those of us who are native-born try to to appreciate how much being able "to share the riches of their cultures" means to them.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC