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Out & About in Cleveland

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The Cleveland Asian Festival

On both Saturday, May 16th, and Sunday, May 17th, we tabled for Margaret W. Wong and Associates at the 6th Annual Cleveland Asian Festival which took place in AsiaTown at the corner of East 27th Street and Payne Avenue in Cleveland. According to Ms. Lisa Wong, who sits on the Executive Committee, there were at least 100 vendors there and it looked like the number of people who attended it was at least as great as last year's number which was excellent considering both mornings were rainy. From our own standpoint, we think that there was a far greater number of people there this year than there was in 2014. Unfortunately, we missed a lot of the festivities because we were busy taking care of our table but we were able to leave it for short period of time to walk around and say hello to people like those from the Youth for Understanding (YFU) Intercultural Exchange Program.

Our table was located indoors almost directly across from Sisters Gift Shop and just to the side of Li Wah Restaurant. Among those tabling close to us were the Erie Chinese Journal, the Ariel Center, Mr. Ken Kovach who was passing out materials regarding this year's One World Day; Ms. Debbie Hanson and Mr. Dan Hanson from Clevelandpeople.com who had a large map of the world on which they were requesting passers-by to mark their ancestors' country of origin, and Mr. Ken Kovach who was passing out materials on this year's One World Day in August.

Many people who knew Ms. Margaret W. Wong stopped by our table and asked us to say hello to her including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Ms. Sheila Crawford from the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, Ms. Sheila Dupree who used to work at British Petroleum when Ms. Wong was assisting them with immigration matters; Ms. Wong's niece Ms. Gloria Ng; Ms. Wong's good friend Ms. Lannie Lee; Mr. Bruce Cutler from the Cleveland International Fund, Ms. Svetlana Stolyarova from the Russian Cultural Garden; Ms. Elizabeth Miller from the Confucius Institute; Mr. George Koussa who used to be the International Student Advisor at Tri-C and was wearing a "Citizen of the World" t-shirt.

Quite a few people also told us that Ms. Wong had either helped them or their friend(s) immigrate here from such places as China, Canada, Trinidad, Libya, Guatemala, and Germany. Also a young man and his wife told us that our Mr. Francis Fungsang helped them with their immigration paperwork when they immigrated to the United States from Ireland and England respectively.

Among the people that we gave our contact information to were:

***A man who was trying to help his sister-in-law with her paperwork. After a lot of time and money, the government lost the paperwork that he had painstakingly assembled. Now they have to start all over again.

***A woman who would like to help her elderly mother, who was been living in the United States for many years, finally become a citizen but was worried because her mother's English is not too good.

***A young person who recently got a job with a very promising company that does business in Shanghai and might want to help some of the people that it does business with immigrate to the United States.

***Another young person who just obtained her H1B visa and was wondering what should she do next.

Two other people who stopped by our booth were a very kind person who told us that years ago she had written Ms. Margaret W. Wong a letter and was very surprised and delighted that she responded, and a man who contended that he was the reincarnation of a naga dragon who once protected Buddha.

In his letter that appeared in the festival program, Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson wrote that "The Cleveland Asian Festival offers us an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy Cleveland's rich heritage-including world-class musicians, dancers, performers, artists, and authentic Asian food. Our vibrant and growing AsiaTown neighborhood serves as the backdrop for the event and as a stage for Cleveland's warm hospitality and cultural diversity."

U.S. Congressman Marcia L. Fudge wrote in her letter of recognition that "for six years the Cleveland Asian Festival has fulfilled its mission of strengthening the identity of AsiaTown and educating and promoting Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) culture. By advocating the importance of cultural preservation and highlighting their cultural contributions to society, the Cleveland Asian Festival successfully unites the AAPI community in Greater Cleveland.'

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