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Councilwoman Brady's Annual Miniature Golf Outing; Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA) Ribbon-cutting

On Saturday, July 30th, we went to Cleveland City Councilwoman Dona Brady's annual Miniature Golf Outing at the Memphis Kiddie Park Championship Golf Course on Memphis Road.

We enjoyed talking over the current political scene with Mr. David Stack, the councilwoman's campaign finance person as he busied himself preparing hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled onions via a barbecue.

We discovered that Margaret W. Wong and Associates had partially sponsored a hole there so we set to find it. As things turned out, it was Hole #11 which was distinguished by a lighthouse that the player had to hit his/her ball under in order for it to get to its final destination. Based on our own miniature golf experiences, we would rate this hole as semi-tough but achievable. The other sponsors of Hole #11 were Manny and Heidi Glynias, Metropolis Consulting, and Midwest Box.

We always enjoy supporting Councilwoman Brady because she does so much for our international community. She had done a lot for the Albanian Cultural Garden and was instrumental in establishing Cleveland's Sister City relationship with Fier, Albania. What's more her efforts to assist Kosovo refugees earned her accolades from the American Nationalities Movement and the International Services Center.

We looked up an article about Councilwoman Brady that appears online on In this article there is a very telling quote by her concerning her upbringing which reads, "like most of us at that time we had great respect for our elders. We were proud of their ethnic backgrounds and had great respect for what they did to get to this country."

Next we went to the ribbon-cutting for the Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA) located on Lorain IMG_3258Avenue in Cleveland.

We remember attending a meeting back in September of 2014 in which Ms. Meran Rogers, GALA's Founding Director, discussed her plans for this language immersion school. One of the major obstacles at that time was finding a suitable location. Ultimately, it was decided to establish GALA in the classrooms which were no longer being used at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. So, back in February of this year, we attended an open house/orientation for GALA there. Now classes are scheduled to finally start on August 3rd and Dr. Jessica Gilway, GALA's principal, told us that some sixty students are now enrolled.

To put it simply, GALA will offer two immersion programs in Spanish and in Mandarin. It is the first language immersion school in Northeast Ohio and the only Mandarin immersion school in Ohio.

Accordingly, Saturday's ribbon cutting was attended by several community leaders as well as parents, students, IMG_3274teachers, supporters and board members. Ms. Rogers was very happy as she said that GALA "was years in the making and I am happy that we made it here but we would not have made it here without you all so we are all in this together."

She particularly thanked Mr. Richard Pogue and Mr. Albert Ratner, both present, for their support. Another worthy supporter of GALA was Ms. Margaret W. Wong thus Ms. Rogers graciously acknowledged Ms. Judy Wong and ourselves who were representing Ms. Wong on this day.

IMG_3288Other people who were acknowledged included Mr. Bryan Gillooly, Executive Director of Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation; Cleveland City Councilman Brian Kazy, and Mr. Joe Cimperman, President of Global Cleveland.

When it was time to cut the ribbon, Ms. Rogers asked that all of the parents and students stand behind it because this was all about the parents working hard to give their children the best opportunities possible.

IMG_3281 After the ribbon was cut, Councilman Kazy spoke for a moment about how this GALA would be a real asset to the neighborhood and then presented Ms. Rogers with a "Resolution of Recognition" from the Cleveland City Council which contained an excellent summary of what GALA is; the history of its founding; and plans for future expansion.

We are glad that the Resolution mentioned GALA's vision which involves "creating a better world through education, elimination of language barriers, and preparation of global leaders for the future."

Most of our weekend, however, consisting of tabling on behalf of Margaret W. Wong and Associates, at St. Sergius Cathedral's 2016 Russian Festival which took place at German Central Farm on York Road in Parma.

Upon our arrival we were greeted by Ms. Laura Verbiski, who coordinated the vendors, and Mr. George and Ms. Lucy Balasko who we see regularly at European festivals.

Along with other vendors, we were assigned tables inside the German Central Dance Hall which was, thankfully, air-IMG_3233conditioned, thus our tenure there on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and early evening, and Sunday afternoon was a comfortable one indeed. To get food, we only had to walk downstairs to the main kitchen or to the Russian Tea Room located right across the way. Occasionally, we ventured out to the Krueger Pavilion to watch the performances of the Golden Gates Musical Ensemble and the Barynya Duo.

But on Saturday evening, the Duo (consisting of Mr. Mikhail Smirnov and Ms. Elina Korokhina) came over to the Dance Hall and played some lovely Russian melodies for us. And, of course, our good friend Mr. Ken Kovach brought his IMG_3303Cuyahoga Cossacks over to serenade us during the afternoons of both Saturday and Sunday.

Right next to our table was that of Mr. Leo Anicola and his partner, Ms. Debbie Markey who were selling some of the most beautiful crystal that we have ever seen. We were fascinated to learn that it came from the Gus-Khrustalny Crystal Factory that is located about four hours east of Moscow and, except for a brief period from 2012-2015, has been in existence since 1756 and is known throughout the world.

During the course of the weekend, a good number of people stopped off at our table to chat including:

****A person whose great-grandfather just might have been the RusIMG_3305sian interpreter for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria.

****Mr. Vitaliy Bezrodlove who has known Ms. Wong for 20 years. She helped a good friend of his immigrate to the United States. Mr. Wayne Benos, another immigration lawyer, told us to be sure to say hello to Ms. Wong who is his good friend. And there was a cabinet-maker who worked on Ms. Wong's kitchen who joked that "maybe she doesn't want to remember me!"

****A woman named Eleni (who immigrated to the United States from Greece) and Maria (who immigrated to the United States from Armenia) told us that they remember seeing us at other festivals. Another person who remembered us was a man who was a "peace keeper" at the immigration walk just a few weeks ago.IMG_3312

****A retiree who worked at Baldwin-Wallace talked to us about the diversity of its student body which is something to be proud of.

****A person from Germany who immigrated to the United States via Brazil in 1960 shared with us how much tougher the process was back then. He/she had to pass a difficult physical and had to attend Max Hayes High School for two years to learn English.

****A man whose company sponsored some students for H-1B's over the years described the process as very arcane. In his words, it was very "hit or miss."

****We gave our contact information to a person whose relative from Europe is having a very tough time obtaining his own H-1B visa so he can work here. We also told a person who has a relative here from Pakistan to give us a call.

****A woman whose father immigrated to the United States from Greece in the 1940's and settled in Cleveland talked to us about her dad and his experiences. She, herself, visited Greece and liked its relaxed atmosphere as well as the beauty of the islands.

****A man who is happily married now recalled that years ago he obtained fiancé visas for two women from Russia that he considered marrying at different times, of course. One of his prospective wives didn't like it here and returned to Russia. But the other one stayed here after they broke up and married someone else. The point is, the man is now happy and his ex-fiancé, who got here through his efforts, is now happy too.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC