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Cleveland's Asian Immigrant Communities
Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
August 10, 2016

On Wednesday, August 10, 2016, Global Cleveland hosted a panel discussion at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage titled: Begin the Conversation: Cleveland's Immigrant Communities Today: Pan-Asian Community.

Four members of the Cleveland Asian community spoke and answered questions from moderator Jeffery Allen: Gia Hoa Ryan who came to the US from her native Vietnam in 1971, Asim Datta who came from India, Johnny Wu who has lived in Panama, Taiwan and other places and represented the Chinese community and Nupur Goel who is in the 11th Grade at Gilmour Academy. Her parents emigrated from India 20+ years ago.

Panelists Asim Datta, Nupur Goel, Gia Hoa Ryan and Johnny Wu

Panelists Asim Datta, Nupur Goel, Gia Hoa Ryan and Johnny Wu

Johnny Wu spoke about being stereotyped as Asian even though he was born in Panama and speaks English, Spanish and Chinese in that order.



Johnny Wu

Johnny Wu

Nupur Goel was the 2016 Grand Prize winner of the Stop the Hate essay program of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. She said that labels can be important and beneficial in understanding a person but when they are used to box people into a preconceived category they can be harmful.



Nupur Goel

Nupur Goel


Has there been a shift in cultural attitudes? For example, Cleveland now has AsiaTown which replaces the old Chinatown. Asim Datta said it used to be that all Asians were seen as Chinese but it is different now. Gia Hoa Ryan prefers the Chinatown name and Johnny Wu explained why Cleveland's Chinatown was rebranded as AsiaTown.



Asim Datta speaking

Asim Datta speaking


Asim Datta said that the Indian community never settled in one central area. He said maybe they don't centralize themselves or want to go where there are better schools or feel they can survive independently without the community close at hand.



Gia Hoa Ryan came from Vietnam in 1971 and told the story of the Cleveland Vietnamese community and why they live in the same area.



Gia Hoa Ryan speaking

Gia Hoa Ryan speaking


Nupur Goel said it makes sense for immigrants wanting to stick with their communities. The drastic change in emigrating leads to people wanting to be with people like them when they get here.



Johnny Wu said that both native born and visiting students need to learn from each other and respect each other's cultures.



Johnny Wu

Johnny Wu

Nupur Goel told of her own experience as a student. She started a club at school to help other students learn about her background and culture.



A question was asked about the 2nd and 3rd generation losing their culture and Gia Hoa Ryan and Asim Datta answered.



Gia Hoa Ryan and Johnny Wu

Gia Hoa Ryan and Johnny Wu

Johnny Wu spoke about his upbringing in a diplomat's family that traveled to many countries. His father was strict and made him learn Chinese and martial arts at an early age.



The panelists were asked why people chose Cleveland as a destination and why they choose to stay here. All 4 panelists answered and no, it wasn't for the perfect climate.



Jeffery Allen, Asim Datta, Nupur Goel, Johnny Wu and Gia Hoa Ryan

Jeffery Allen, Asim Datta, Nupur Goel, Johnny Wu and Gia Hoa Ryan

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