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China Day, Walk Against Ebola, East Side Irish American Fall Festival

On Saturday, September 27th, we had a long day because we attended quite a few events but we went to bed feeling very fulfilled. Our first stop was opening ceremonies for China Day presented by the Confucius Institute in the Main Classroom Atrium at Cleveland State University. We have already written about OCA Greater Cleveland's Dragon Dance Team and they certainly performed well here today.

Of course we saw and said hello to Dr. Anthony Yen and Ms. Elizabeth Miller of the Confucius Institute and met Dr. Y Guodong; Professor, School of Foreign Languages and Director of the Foreign Affairs Office; from Shanxi University in China who was here visiting. From the time opening ceremonies ended about 10:30am until 2pm there would be classes in Calligraphy and Chinese as well as other activities such as mooncake tasting and a tea ceremony..

We hadn't seen Mr. Harlan L. Smith, Executive Director of the Center for International Services and Programs at CSU since last winter when we shared a table with him at a FICA event at CSU. When we saw him on Saturday, he had a box of containing many copies of Ms. Wong's book "The Immigrant's Way" left over from a recent presentation and he offered to drop them off at our office but we told him we would return them so we had a good visit as we walked to his car to retrieve the box of books before we left to go to our next stop which was in Wade Oval Park in proximity to the Cleveland Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The event itself was a "Walk Against Ebola" organized by the Liberian Association of Cleveland. It was scheduled to start at 11am but things were slow in getting started so we walked over to another event that was taking place on the other side of the park which was 2014 Northeast Ohio CureSearch Walk to on behalf of children who have been afflicted with cancer. We knew that Ms. Wong would be very supportive of this effort so we gave a small donation and watched opening ceremonies which were conducted by Mr. Joe Pagonakis of NewsNet5. Several hundred people of all ages were there and it thankfully looked like the Cleveland walk was going to be a success. The walk was organized by Ms. Courtney Bollman, Community Development Manager for CureSearch, who told the attendees that nine walks were taking place across the country and thousands were gathering to "celebrate those affected by children's cancer...thank you for helping the hospitals get the resources that they need."

The CureSearch Walk started and we walked with the participants to the other side of the park where the Ebola walkers were coming together. We said hello to Mr. Martin Zeinway, President of the Liberian Association of Cleveland, who we knew from Liberia Family Fest and Liberian Ball last July 26th. We then bought a beautiful t-shirt that read "Ebola is Real, together we can walk to prevent Ebola." and helped make posters to be carried on the walk.

We met and talked to several nice people including Mr. Dan Jenkins and his daughter, Amber, both of whom teach at Lincoln-West High School as well as Dr. Jessica Kumar from University Hospitals who devotes herself to combating infectious diseases like HIV, TB and Ebola.

Before the walk started, several speeches were made. First, Mr. Zeinway said that walks against Ebola were taking place in several other cities and that the goal was to collectively raise $20,000.00 for medical supplies to be sent to Liberia. The next speaker was Mr. Theophilus Bass, who is President of African Insurance Corporation of Liberia, who had just returned from from Liberia on June 28th and will go back again soon. Mr. Bass had witnessed first hand the effects of Ebola and said that "we must put our hands together and do something about this phenomenal epidemic," he then went on to call for "continuous prayer" and to "emphasize what needs to be done."

A couple of other people spoke and then the walk which consisted of about 50 people started. The walkers were scheduled to travel to University Hospital and Cleveland Clinic and then back again to Wade Oval Park. We admired their determination and walked with them for several blocks.

We had things we had to do in the afternoon but we resolved to make it over to the Second Annual Fall Festival at the East Side Irish American Club where we were told to tell Ms. Wong thank you for her continual support of their activities; exactly the same thing was said last week at the West Side Irish American Club when we attended their clambake.

Mr. Francis McGarry, the current club president, told us that 500 people were expected that day. Very soon after we sat down to enjoy some music, our friend Ms. Debbie Hanson from arrived to cover the event so we told her that we were members and we liked attending East Side Irish American Club events and Ms. Hanson told us that she once was the club president herself. We relaxed for a while; had a plate of french fries; chatted with some people; and listened to the Irish band "Craic" play some musical numbers.

Our next event was the 91st Annual Celebration of the Feast of St. Wenceslaus which was held this year at St. John Nepomucene Church in Slavic Village; the location of this yearly gathering rotates with Our Lady of Lourdes. We saw several people that we knew there like Ohio State Senator Michael J. Skindell and his mother, Carol Skindell, as well as Judge Ralph Perk, Jr. and his wife, Kelli Perk and Mr. Joe Kocab, the "Czech Voice of Cleveland" on WHKW.

We said hello to Father Robert J. Jasany of St. John Nepomucene who recognized us from the several events that we attended there. We also spoke with the Most Reverend Roger Gries, O.S.B., Auxiliary Bishop of the Cleveland Diocese who told us that he was very much looking forward to seeing Ms. Wong next week at the Asian Mass.

Reverend Thomas P. Mahoney recalled that Ms. Wong had once assisted a woman who had immigrated to the United States from Peru who was having a difficult time with the immigration proceedings and with family matters. From what Reverend Mahoney told us, all is well now and the woman is a very successful teacher at Lakewood Catholic Academy.

We ate dinner with Mr. and Mrs. John Sazpansky. Mr. Sazpansky wanted to know, since we are from a law office, if any of our attorneys had had any contact with his son, Mr. Scott Sazpansky who has been a bailiff with the Cleveland courts for 15 years. We told him that we, ourselves, had never been to court but we would ask.

Another person who we encountered there was Reverend Gerard Gonda, O.S.B., from Benedictine High School. We have seen Reverend Gonda at several events lately and we recognized each other. He asked us where we had been that day and we told him. He went on to ask us, half jokingly, where we were going at 8pm that night. We, in turn, told him that our excursion would be to Brecksville at 7pm.

The reason that we were aiming to be in Brecksville by 7pm was that we wanted to see the vatra (large bonfire) at the Slavtemberfest held at St. Joseph's Byzantine Catholic Church on Brecksville Road. We actually arrived a little early and the Vatra was postponed for a little later than 7pm because the sun had not gone down at that time.

Thus we got to visit with Ms. Mary Jo Keshock who we know from the monthly meetings Cleveland-Bratislava Sister Cities and Mr. Joe Klucho who was helping her take care of the table that contained some lovely Slovak photos and artifacts. We asked Ms. Keshock and Mr. Klucho about the significance of the sandwiches with roasted bacon that the attendees were lining up for. We were told that they are a traditional food in Slovakia; in fact, a shepherd out with his sheep and alone while often create a small fire and roast the bacon on a stick and put in on a slice of bread and have it for dinner/lunch/breakfast.

Mr. Klucho, who taught English in Slovakia in the late 1990's, said that the Slovakian people that he knew while he was there were quite active so they didn't really gain that much weight from often eating the bacon and bread and Ms. Keshock said that she sometimes cooks it in her backyard for friends.

We also met Father Riebe who has served the parish for 21 years. We talked to him briefly about the small Saint John Paul II Chapel standing nearby and asked if the soon-to-be-lit Vatra had any significance and he replied that it really did not but it was a good way to bring people of all ages together. We even had a few minutes to take a hayride through the woods before the Vatra and even though we did not go far at all it seemed like we were all alone in the woods and it made us look forward to halloween.

About 8pm the Vatra was lit and it was simply striking-like a roman candle against the dark of night. It was a great way to end a long day for us and for all those who saw it.

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