Joseph Meissner received the Freedom Award at the American Nationalities Movement of Ohio's 56th annual Captive Nations Dinner on July 20, 2017. Meissner called up Toan Huynh who has been a Cleveland school teacher for the last 36 years. During the Vietnam War, Huynh was kept prisoner in a communist concentration camp and he warned of the evils of communism.
Joseph Meissner received the Freedom Award at the American Nationalities Movement of Ohio's 56th annual Captive Nations Dinner on July 20, 2017. Joe Meissner called up Gia Hoa Ryan and Oanh Loi-Powell to tell about the new Vietnamese Cultural Garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens chain.
Vietnamese Cooking demonstration by Pho Thang Cafe
New to the 2017 Cleveland Asian Festival was a demonstration of Asian cooking. Nancy and Susan from Pho Thang Cafe presented two dishes.
They prepared Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad and then Vietnamese Summer Rolls.
Vietnamese history, soldiers and Cultural Garden in Cleveland
Lt. Colonel Joseph Meissner served with the Green Berets in Vietnam. He connected with Miss Gia Hoa Ryan who came from Vietnam in 1971 and formed the Friendship Foundation. Joe tells some of the history of the Vietnamese people (like the Trung Sisters) and Miss Ryan explains the plans for the Vietnamese Cultural Garden which will be part of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
Escape from Vietnam - A Refugee's Journey to Reach the American Dream
Loi Dang-Nguyen, Ph.D. was the keynote speaker at the 2nd annual ASIA, Inc. Friendraiser at Ariel International in Cleveland. She told how her family, which included 12 siblings, had to suddenly flee the communists in 1975. She told of being part of the boat people and how they arrived in a refugee camp in Florida and eventiually settled in Akron, Ohio.
Loi Dang-Nguyen, Ph.D. giving her keynote speech
Dr. Dang-Nguyen told of the cultural issues her family had in their new country and how they have given back to their community.
After completing some educational charity work in Dien Bien Phu Province in Vietnam, Joe Meissner and his group journeyed to the city of Binh Duong. They became involved in several weddings with some memorable stories.
Health Disparities in Asian Populations November 10, 2016
Margaret Wong and Associates and Case Western Reserve University joined together to create an evening reception to promote health, education, and awareness to the Asian community in Cleveland. The event featured an educational seminar by Li Li, MD PhD, Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Professor and Director. Dr. Li spoke about Acculturation and Health Disparities in Asian Population.
Battle of Dien Bien Phu, Psychological Operations, and the Thai People by Joseph Patrick Meissner
An eleven year old boy kneels beside his bed and studies the pages and maps of the Cleveland Plain Dealer laid out on the bed spread. The ongoing media story for several months has been the titanic struggle at Dien Bien Phu in Northwestern Vietnam. Daily, the Viet Minh Communist forces have tightening their trench line noose around these gallant French forts manned by French foreign legion troops, other French soldiers, Moroccan and African French forces, Vietnamese units of Emperor Bao Dai, and local Thai and tribal groups. The Communists were called the Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi (League for the Independence of Vietnam)-- or the Viet Minh, as it became known colloquially.
This is concrete relief beside Col De Castries bunker showing brave French defenders. I salute them for their dedication and sacrifice
Cleveland's Asian Immigrant Communities 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.
Jeffery Allen, Asim Datta, Nupur Goel, Johnny Wu and Gia Hoa Ryan
Here is a sample video of Gia Hoa Ryan who came from Vietnam in 1971 and told the story of the Cleveland Vietnamese community.
Vietnamese Cultural Garden Work Day
The August 7, 2016 project was to clean up the site for One World Day on August 28, Raise the proud Yellow and Red striped Flag of Viet Nam, and Prepare the Cleveland ground for a Beautiful Flower garden. The Morning began with a Salute to the flag by everyone standing at attention, a Review of the Day's Importance, and prayers for all who gave their lives in Viet Nam.
On Sunday June 26 the Vietnamese Cultural Garden Committee hosted a community event for everyone entitled "BRUNCH A LA VIET NAM" at the Sai Gon Plaza in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
Gia Hoa Ryan, Director of the Friendship Foundation which sponsored the event stated, "Our goal was to educate our entire community about the beautiful Vietnamese garden we are establishing on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. We will join the other gardens that foster appreciation of the many ethnic groups making up our Cleveland. Our garden will proudly display our national flag of the gold field with three broad red stripes symbolizing the North, the Center, and South of our motherland. Our garden will tell the story of the beginning of the Vietnamese people in the marriage of the Mountain Dragon King with the Fairy Princess of the Sea."
The event attracted some two hundred people, representing Cleveland's diversity.
A highlight of the 6th annual Holiday Celebration of Cleveland's Diversity held in the atrium of the Global Center for Health Innovation in the Cleveland Convention Center by the International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network (ICC-WIN) was the multicultural fashion show.
Models: Lianana Powell, Marilyn Cassidy, Oanh Loi Powell, Uyen Dam, Michelle Zone and GiaHoa Ryan.
The Ao Dai (Ao Zai) is the iconic traditional clothing of Vietnam. It is fitted, full-length dress worn over loose fitting trousers and dates back to 1744 when Kung Vu Vuong of the Nguyen (Wynn) Dynasty decreed both men and women should wear an ensemble of trousers and gown that buttoned down the front. The modern version dates to the 1930's.
The Ao Dai (Ao Zai) still remains popular and influential in the modern day Vietnamese culture.
Gia Hoa Ryan from Cleveland's Vietnamese community explained the Vietnamese clothing she and her group were wearing to Ken Kovach of ICC-WIN at the Cleveland Museum of Art's International Cleveland Community Day in the Atrium of the museum. This included male and female and young and old.
Vietnamese Cultural Garden
Members of the Vietnamese Cultural Garden Committee of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens met at the future site of the Garden. This historic meeting was captured in photos and video.
Anthem of Free Vietnam (Tieng Goi Công Dân) in Cleveland
Members of the Vietnamese Cultural Garden Committee of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens gathered around a flag at the future site of the Vietnamese Garden on MLK Blvd and sang Tieng Goi Công Dân, which was the national anthem of South Vietnam from 1948 to 1975. It is now called the "Anthem of Free Vietnam".
More from the new Vietnamese Cultural Garden soon
Tet Nguyen Dan and a new Morning of Hope for the Vietnamese-American Community
by Joseph Meissner
This is a Tet Celebration morning. It is Tet Nguyen Danh, the huge festival season for Vietnamese all around the world.
Families will travel from all lands in order to return home at Tet. In Viet Nam they enjoy the warmth and sunshine, while on this Cleveland morning, all is gray with wet mushy snow everywhere. But all still celebrate here with the fruit baskets, the special candies of stringy white coconut, tasty dried fruits, nut-flavored watermelon seeds that you must crack open with your teeth, delicious banh chong cakes packed in the center with all sorts of fillings, "li si" of gaily decorated red envelopes containing new money gifts for the children, and the thin branches of the small flowering yellow buds that especially mark the coming of the New Year.
Vietnamese Fashion at Cleveland Multicultural Event
Representatives from the Cleveland Vietnamese community participated in the International Community Council - Worldwide Intercultural Network's (ICC-WIN) 5th annual multicultural holiday celebration at the Global Center for Health Innovation in the Cleveland Convention Center in Cleveland Ohio. They modeled Vietnamese costumes at the International Fashion Show which featured traditional costumes of dozens of countries.
About 1000 people celebrated the Annual Mass and Gathering on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 12 noon at St. Clarence Church. This is the 17th year the event was hosted by the Asian Ministry of the Diocese of Cleveland. It was an afternoon of family celebration of Asian culture and spirituality beginning with the celebration of the Mass with the Most Rev. Roger W Gries, OSB along with priests from the different Asian Catholic communities.
The cultural and ethnic diversity of the Asian Catholic communities assembled at the Mass was reflected throughout the celebration. Members of the various Asian communities came together with their own traditions, dressed in colorful ethnic clothes: shimmering saris, kimonos, karawangs, hanboks, barongs, and ao dai. The entrance procession included Vietnamese drums. During the Mass there was an incense ceremony by the Vietnamese, and the Indian aarti. Hymns were sung by the choirs in various Asian languages: Tagalog (Filipino), Korean, Vietnamese and Hindi (Indian).
The readings and the prayers of the faithful were also said in various Asian languages.
Cleveland City Hall Rotunda
May 28, 2014 The City of Cleveland Community Relations Board, led by Asian Liaison Chia-Min Chen, hosted an Asian Heritage Day Celebration on May 28, 2014 in the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda.
Over 60 Asian community groups and organizations participated. Chia-Min Chen called them up to the stage one at a time and each gave an elevator speech explaining their organization. The following Vietnamese groups were represented:
Gia Hoa Ryan and Joseph Meissner are currently on another good will trip to Vietnam to help teach and assist with other projects to help the people.
Joe sent this interesting tale from a wedding they attended. Joe said:
We were invited to a local wedding. Couples here consider it good luck to have guests come from afar to wish them well. So Gia Hoa was especially honored and we sat with the groom's family.
There is a wonderful time at a Vietnamese wedding when the couple and their attendants visit each table and they drink toasts and take special photos with the table guests.
So it came to pass that this couple with the bride in a beautiful white dress and her husband in a nice white tuxedo visited our table.
Gia Hoa had a great toast for the wedding couple: "Mot Cham Nam hanh phuc." That means "may you have a hundred years of love and happiness," or in other words, "Blessings forever"
It then came Meissner's turn. So he said, "Co mui hai cong gai va con giai, sau cong gai va sau cong giai."
The couple did not quite understand his Vietnamese, so he repeated it again. "May you have twelve children, six girls and six boys,"
"Oh My God," said the bride in her best English.
We learn later that the Bride's mother was number nine in a family of eleven.
Of course Gia Hoa herself is Number One in a family of twelve brothers and sisters.
Vietnamese community erects shrine to Our Lady of La Vang
To understand the importance of this shrine to the Vietnamese Catholics, one must only understand that Our Lady often appears when needed most, to provide comfort to those persecuted for their faith as she did in the forest of LaVang in 1798. As Vietnamese Catholics were escaping the onslaught of the communists seeking their destruction, it was their Catholic faith and their belief in Our Lady of LaVang that brought great comfort.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) (Newton D. Baker Chapter) and Joint Veterans Commission of Cuyahoga County hosted a special event titled: The Vietnam War: A Presentation and a Conversation.
It featured a presentation by Colonel David W. Taylor (USAR-Ret) who is the author of the book: Our War the History and Sacrifices of an Infantry Battalion in the Vietnam War. The event was held at Saigon Plaza in Cleveland and hosted by Lt Colonel Joseph Meissner and Gia Hoa Ryan.
Ron Schwachenwald, president of the Association of the U.S. Army - Newton D. Baker Chapter and Joint Veterans Commission of Cuyahoga County, and Gia Hoa Ryan
2013 Cleveland Asian Festival
May 18-19, 2013
The 4th annual Cleveland Asian Festival attracted 38,380 attendees over the weekend of May 18-19, 2013. They spent over $2 million in the AsiaTown neighborhood. There were dozens of performances from local, regional, and national performing groups including headliner Cheesa from NBC's The Voice.
People enjoyed Asian cuisine from over 20 different restaurants and shopping in the World Market which was filled with merchants of Asian themed products while sponsors had informational displays at their tent.
Debbie Hanson, Joe Meissner, Gia Hoa Ryan and Sheila Crawford
Congratulations to Le Nguyen, Asian Liaison, City of Cleveland Community Relations Board, who was given a proclamation of appreciation by Mayor Frank Jackson at Asian Pacific American Heritage Day in the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda on May 17, 2012.
A diverse group of Asian Americans (Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian and others) gathered in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Day. In addition to the speeches, entertainment and food, Mayor Jackson gave a proclamation of appreciation to Le Nguyen, Asian Liaison, City of Cleveland Community Relations Board.
Lt. Colonel Joe Meissner, Mona Alag, Margaret Wong, Mayor Jackson, Blaine Griffin, Le Nguyen, Lisa Wong and Grady Stevenson
Beyond the Rice Paddies - Book Review by Linda West
(born Tran Thi Bach Yen Oanh )
The 111 pages of Beyond the Rice Paddies are organized into a series of 3 or 4 page stories. You will keep saying to yourself 'Just one more' until you realize you have read the entire book.
It is a fascinating look into the world of a young girl in Vietnam in the mid-1960's. Tran Thi Bach Yen Oanh (the author, now known as Linda West) lived with her paternal grandmother, the beloved Ba Noi, in the village of Bien Hoa near Saigon.
The vignettes describe the joys (some American chewing gum, a doll with yellow hair, etc.) and hardships (a toilet comprised of two rickety slats over a maggot and fly infested area) of life in that historic place and time.
The war affects the villagers but not always directly. For example, Young Oanh wakes up one day with 'bubbles' over her one side that they determine were caused by a powder that came from a plane. Bodies are left in the market square to be claimed. Her hut has a dugout area so she and her Ba Noi can hide from the bullets when firefights erupt.
The author tells of the joy of the parade as the "giant-sized" American GIs marched into town to go "Beyond the Rice Paddies' and fight the Viet Cong. She then describes the fear and confusion when only a handful of them limp back a few days later, sans the fanfare.
Her mother worked as a 'bargirl' in Saigon and eventually marries an American who takes Oanh and her brother to the US in 1970. The author is now a real estate broker, a mother of three children and lives in Tucson, Arizona.
It's a fascinating yet humbling book that will make you count your blessings and perhaps look at war and the world in a different way.
Gia Hoa Ryan at podium at Cleveland International Hall of Fame
Every year I return to my First Motherland of Viet Nam. I go back to see my Mother, visit with my many family still there, and pay honor at my Father's grave site. As the oldest of twelve children, it is my duty to guide and help all of my brothers and sisters, our children and grand children-both in Viet Nam and America-so they may all lead productive and happy lives.
I also go to Viet Nam to carry out the many activities of the Friendship Foundation. Our Foundation mission is "to build bridges of friendship" between the wonderful people of Viet Nam and the wonderful people of America.
In seventeen years of humanitarian work, our Foundation has sponsored over one thousand volunteers to Viet Nam where they have conducted educational, medical, legal, and charitable work. At the same time, we have hosted hundreds of people from Viet Nam--including students, lawyers and business people, and medical and governmental personnel-to come to my Second Motherland of America and to our great City of Cleveland. They come to work, learn, and enjoy time with us.
I thank all of you for this honor of inducting me into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame. I congratulate all the other inductees who richly deserve this achievement.
It is my great dream that we together will find many ways so that all of our diverse peoples can share their talents, traditions, and cultures with each other in peace and friendship.
Dr. Dieu Thuc Do named to Inaugural Class of Cleveland International Hall of Fame.
Dr. Do, a decorated veteran of both the U.S. Army and the Army of South Vietnam, has been the family doctor to Cleveland's Vietnamese immigrant community for more than 30 years. Dr. Do joins a stellar cast of inductees in the inaugural class of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the east.
With a population of over 86 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous country in the world.
The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi Minh.
Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under Communist rule.
Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals - many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants - and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam's "doi moi" (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries.
The country continues to experience small-scale protests from various groups, the vast majority connected to land-use issues and the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. Various ethnic minorities, such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region, have also held protests.
Read more about the Vietnamese and other Ambassadors. If you are interested in being considered to be an official ClevelandPeople.com Ambassador to the Cleveland Vietnamese community, please contact us.