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Out & About in Cleveland

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Naturalization Ceremony

Our day started off with a trip to the James A. Garfield National Historical Site in Mentor where we watched 28 foreign born people take the oath to become citizens of the United States. Such a ceremony is conducted twice a year here, first in July close to the 4th of July and then in September close to Constitution Day. We recalled attending the July ceremony and found the September event to be quite similar because, once again, the oath was administered by the Honorable William H. Baughman, U.S. District Court Judge, and present to say a few words were Ohio Senator Joss Eklund as well as Ohio State Reps Ron Young and John Rogers. Representatives were sent from the offices of U.S. Congressman David Joyce and U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. What we believe was different was the presence of students from All Saints School located next door and a local tour bus stopped off so that its passengers could watch the proceedings before visiting the Historical Site.

Ohio State Senator Eklund urged the new citizens to follow the "guideposts" of personal responsibility, mutual respect, and staying informed about what is happening in your country so that they can make wise decisions. Ohio State Rep. Young said that his and other elected officials' role is to defend the rights of the citizenry and if the people felt that the government was pushing them too far to to contact either him or the other elected officials who were there and ask for help. Ohio State Rep. Rogers said that he really appreciated the diversity that these new citizens would bring to the United States because "diversity makes us strong."

During the course of the remarks of Judge Baughman, he expressed concern about how he felt that the media "tries to influence our feelings and votes" and urged the new citizens to really study the issues and make informed decisions instead of "voting on the basis of sound bites." He went on to say that he was very grateful to the new citizens for choosing this country and for the role that they will play in upholding our society.

We talked to a few people who were taking the oath today including Mr. Mannar Dhandapani who immigrated to the United States 10 years ago from India and was helped by Margaret W. Wong to obtain his green card. He talked to Ms. Wong a few months ago when she spoke at Progressive and she urged him to complete the process and become a citizen and so he did.

We also visited with Ms. Doreen Mattison who sang the National Anthem at the beginning of the ceremony and "America the Beautiful" at the closing. Ms. Mattison has been participating in these ceremonies for at least four years. She told us that she likes to do this because her mother (when she was 10 years old) and her grandmother both immigrated to the United States from England in 1946 so she can relate to what the new citizens have gone through. She also enjoys giving back to her community.

We really liked it when Dr. Todd Arrington, Chief of Interpretation and Education at the Historical Site, told the new citizens that the "400 parks in 50 states are now yours as well as mine. You are the owners of the parks. We welcome you here and we celebrate the diversity that you bring to this country."

Our next stop with the monthly luncheon of the Lake County Development Council which always takes place at Dino's in Willoughby so we didn't have too far too go. We have been attending this luncheon for a long time now and this one was especially well attended largely due to the fact that there were no such meetings over the summer.

We had a good speaker too and he was Mr. Anthony J. Carson, Jr., the City Manager of Painesville who has held that position since July, 2013. His presentation concerned what is going on in Painesville including property development, the makeover of Main Street, and expansion of Lake Erie College. He said the both "Party in the Park" (that we helped out with) and the "Taste of Painesville" were successful events that drew people to Painesville from outside areas because, if they had a good time, they will probably return for other events which is a goal. Above all, he really emphasized that in order for communities to succeed they must establish a partnership between government and the private sector because neither can do it alone.

Afterwards we had a good conversation with a retired businessperson who said that something should be done to help the documented and legal immigrants claim the excess monies that have been withheld by their employers for taxes. He said that it was his understanding that immigrants, who want to keep a low profile, are often afraid to do this even though they are within their legal rights to do so. We also spoke to Ms. Cathy Bieterman, Director of Economic Development for Painesville, who said that she is still open to Margaret W. Wong and Associates sending a representative to Painesville to talk about immigration to the United States and the process of becoming a citizen.

We are proud to say that Margaret W. Wong and Associates, along with Asia Plaza and Dollar Bank, was a Signature Sponsor of OCA Cleveland's Mid-Autumn Moon Festival "Dancing with Dinosaurs" at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and thus we got to go there and table on Friday night. It was a beautiful event and we were told that it was the first time that the OCA Dragon Dance (in partnership with the Confucius Institute at CSU) and the Kwan Family Lion Dance were performed at the same venue.

There was a brief gathering where Mr. Wayne Wong of OCA thanked the sponsors and we were grateful to him for saying that Margaret W. Wong and Associates was a "premiere immigration law firm" and that Margaret W. Wong is "always a wonderful supporter of our local Asian community." Mr. Wong also explained that traditionally the moon festival was a celebration of the summer harvest and that the egg yolk in the round rice cakes (that are always served at this time) symbolizes the sun in the sky. Regarding OCA, Mr. Wong said that it used to stand for the Organization of Chinese Americans but over time that proved to be too narrow so today it is Asian Pacific American Advocates.

More than a few people stopped by our table for pleasant conversation including:

***Mr. Tony Cifelli who worked with Ms. Rose Wong at Pearl of the Orient during the 1990's and now works at Taste of Excellence. He does some catering of his own "on the side."

***Dr. Hermites Sanagustin and Dr. Tess Sanagustin who both work at St. Vincent's Medical Center and know Ms. Wong and say hello to her. Dr. Tess Sanagustin said that she was there because she admires the Chinese dancers and culture. They took our information because they know people that might need our help.

***Stephen and Betty Lau also said hello to Ms. Wong.

***Ms. Pat Blochowiak met Ms. Wong at a fundraiser for former Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich that Ms. Wong put on at her own home years ago and sends her best wishes to her.

***Mr. Ray Chan is an old friend of Ms. Wong's and remembers her from the days when she worked at the Standard Building.

***Mr. Felton Thomas of the Cleveland Library was having a good time at the Festival and was glad to see us there tabling.

***Ms. Tracey Cleveland is hosting two Asian students ages 15 and 16 who are attending Notre Dame Catholic Latin High School. They all just had dinner at the Art Museum and came here to enjoy the festival.

***Mr. Greg Kwan is part of the Kwan Family Lion Dance Co. and he has been doing this for 30 years now and loves it! Mr. Kwan is also a police officer in the 2nd District of Cleveland.

Before we left we asked about the attendance and were told that there were probably 150 people there. We appreciate the work of Ms. Lisa Wong and OCA in putting this evening

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