2016 Lunar Moon New Year Celebration; 1st Annual Taste of Asia; Celebration of Lithuania's Independence Day
On Saturday, February 20th, we went to the 2016 Lunar Moon New Year Celebration at the CSU Student Center. It was a day for families so no matter what a person's age was, there was an activity for him/her. Some of these involved calligraphy, mask painting, Chinese Chess, tangram and math, Chinese New Year Folk Art, the Chinese Zodiac and tattoos (artificial ones). One could also obtain information about the Chinese Bridge Summer Camp and studying abroad as well as the K-12 Chinese Essay and Speech contest. We walked around from table to table and had some good Chinese noodles and vegetables for lunch. At 1:30pm there were live performances by people from such institutions as Langston Middle School, Confucius Institute, St. Ignatius High School, Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School, MC2 STEM High School, Euclid Central High School, Great Wall Enrichment Center, and Westlake Chinese School. Needless to say, there were also performances by the OCA Cleveland Dragon Dance Team and the Senior Fitness Team; both of them were as good as ever. Dr. Anthony Yen , Confucius Institute Board Chairman, gave the welcoming remarks in which he reminded us that 2016 was the Year of the Monkey. He went on to say that he was born during the Year of Monkey some 82 years ago. Saturday was also the day of the 1st Annual Taste of Asia at Saigon Plaza on Detroit Avenue hosted by the Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese (FFAVN) for the benefit of the Vietnamese Cultural Garden. As its ad said, this was a celebration for the New Year and a prayer for good harvests split into two parts. The first part was a craft bazaar from 9am until 3pm and our friends Ms.Gia Hoa Ryan and Mr. Joseph Meissner invited Margaret W. Wong and Associates to a table there so we did so. In addition to ourselves, the other people who were there tabling included Ms. Betina Meissner and Ms. Laquita McArthur selling beanie babies and stuffed animals; Ms. Pat. Hollack from "Everything Vintage" which all sorts of jewelry items; Ms. Alida Henriette Struze who was selling her book, "My Life, My Letters & My Loves"; and Ms. Elizabeth Gadus, artist and calligrapher, with "Elizscripts". The second part took place in the evening and included a buffet dinner, entertainment and music and karoke. There was also a performance of the Lion Dance team composed of students from Mentor High School organized and trained by Mr. Don Luong. We sat down at a table for a little while and had a good conversation about immigration and what we do at Margaret W. Wong and Associates with four very nice people named Bill, Annette, Sue and Sam. Helping out on this day was our friend, Ms. Mari Galindo-DaSilva who told us that Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan had been working day and night for the past four days to make sure that this event would be excellent and we believe that Ms. Ryan succeeded admirably. What really impressed us was that Mr. Evan Powell and Mr. Tyler Powell; who are the sonsof Ms. Oanh Loi-Powell and Mr. Michael Powell who are very involved in FFAVN; brought quite a few members of their CSU fraternity Delta Tau Delta to Saigon Plaza for this celebration. One of these young men was Mr. Anthony Nguyen who said that he was there because he respects diversity and enjoys the exploration of different cultures. He and a few others, would like to start aVietnamese Student Association and we cheered them on. After we left the event at Saigon Plaza, we drove to the Lithuanian-American Club on East 185th Street for a Celebration of Lithuania's Independence Day which, as the City of Cleveland's Proclamation read, "commemorates the anniversary of the restoration of Lithuania's independence on February 16, 1918, and its separation from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. It is also a day to celebrate the 763rd anniversary of the establishment of the Lithuanian Kingdom in 1253." We were fortunate to have as the guest speaker Ms. Ginte Damusis, Lithuanian diplomat and former ambassador to Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia and has the distinction of being the first woman ambassador in the history of NATO. Ms. Damusis delivered her speech in Lithuanian but stopped several times to summarize in English what she was saying. Among the points that she made were that Lithuania was one of the five fastest growing economies in the European Union and many people considered it one of the "top 10" places in Europe to visit and to live. We never thought of this up to now but the "Hollywood Reporter" listed Lithuania as a great place to go for film production. Of course, on the down side, there is the external threat of recent Russian aggression and the internal threat of terrorism. But Ms. Damusis believed that two of the most important things that the citizens of Lithuania need to do is to study their history because in "a vibrant, open society" such awareness is vital and to become more involved civically.We were greeted by our good friend Ms. Ingrida Bublys, Honorary Consul General of Lithuania, who arranged to have our names read off as representatives from "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" when other recognitions were given. We were seated with our friend Ms. Laurel A. Tombazzi, of the Eastern European Congress of Ohio, and her husband, Frank; Mr. Hans and Ms. Karin Ruus representing Estonia; and Ms. Milita Nasvytis, President of the Baltic American Community of Greater Cleveland. We spent some time talking with Ms. Nasvytis' husband, Mr. Victor Nasvytis who told us how he had immigrated to the United States in 1949. He finished high school and served for three years in the United States Marines. He worked for Remington Business Machines for 14 years before he left to start his own successful business as a painter. In addition to all of this, he attended college in the evenings majoring in business administration. Later in the evening we were entertained by the noted songwriter and performer, "Aldegunda" along with her band. We talked for a while with another man who had immigrated to the United States from Lithuania about 13 years ago who told us that he has visited his native land and really likes the progress that has been taking place there since it joined NATO and the European Union. If you appreciate culture, he said, then by all means visit Europe. Someday, we really hope to because it has been years since our last visit. Written by: Michael Patterson Community Liaison, Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.