On Tuesday morning, August 3rd, we went with our good friend and colleague, Mr. Gordon Landefeld, to Thomas Jefferson Newcomers Academy on West 46th Street where Mr. Landefeld addressed a classroom of foreign-born high school students who had either immigrated to the United States, or were refugees, from such countries as Guatemala, Senegal, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Puerto Rico.
We had been invited to Thomas Jefferson by Ms. Angela Bruehler, an educator, because these students were working on a project that involved them researching and then making presentations on justice in the United States from the point-of-view of immigrants, refugees, and undocumented.
Directly relating to this subject, we distributed “Know Your Rights When Questioned or Arrested by Police, Immigration, ICE, or FBI” cards for all the teachers and students and pointed out that the more one is familiar with the contents, the easier one’s conversation with law enforcement personnel will be. He pointed out that it is very important to be vigilant about one’s constitutional protections and emphasized that it is the duty of every U.S. citizen to monitor their government, at least by being an informed voter.
In addition, Mr. Landefeld advised the students to acquire as much knowledge as possible by becoming diligent readers and let it be known that Ms. Margaret W. Wong reads three newspapers a day and speaks several languages.
He then talked about our law office and what Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC does to help immigrants who are in the process of re-settling in the United States. He also talked about Ms. Margaret W. Wong’s own experience when she immigrated to the United States and gave everyone a copy of Ms. Wong’s book, “The Immigrant’s Way” which is quite inspiring.
Mr. Landefeld then encouraged his listeners to at least read its prologue wherein Ms. Wong lists and explains twenty-two things a foreign-born person can do which will help her/him find success in the United States. Among these pointers were to learn English, step outside of one’s comfort zone and make new friends, and don’t be afraid of celebrating one’s own heritage.
To be sure, the topic of racial/cultural discrimination needed to be addressed so Mr. Landefeld wisely framed the discussion around recent happenings regarding harassment of Asians who were unfairly scapegoated over the Coronavirus. He let it be known that several members of the Margaret W. Wong team attended rallies that challenged such despicable behavior and that it was Ms. Wong’s personal mission to ensure that no one should be subjected to such disrespect.
Interestingly, about a week prior to this meeting, we had a conversation with our wonderful friend, Ms. Meryl Johnson, who taught for forty years in the Cleveland Public Schools and is now a member of the Ohio State Board of Education, in which we told her that “Gordon” would be addressing the students at Thomas Jefferson on this day. Ms. Johnson thought that we were referring to Mr. Eric Gordon, the CEO of CMSD, and came over to hear him. Of course, Ms. Johnson was taken aback when “Gordon” turned out to not be the person that she expected to hear.
Nevertheless, she stayed to listen to Mr. Landefeld and found his presentation to be very worthwhile and laudatory. Likewise, she complimented the students and teachers for taking part in this project because the subject matter was so important.
Along these lines, as she skimmed through the prologue of Ms. Wong’s book, Ms. Johnson discovered that one of the suggestions was to “Do Not Do Stupid Things that You Know are Stupid” which impressed her so much that she immediately posted it on her Facebook page.