A Very Special Thanksgiving!

By Lee Lazar

A multi-cultural celebration was a perfect ending to an outstanding Creative Fusion experience.  Meng’s parents (from Taiwan) and sister and brother in law (from Boston) drove to Cleveland from Boston and arrived Thanksgiving afternoon.  We knew that Meng’s parents speak very little English.  Translation would be provided by Meng, her sister and brother in law, and my son in law, who is quasi fluent in Mandarin.

Meng and her family arrived at my home and met Karen and me, our son and daughter in law (from NYC) and our daughter and son in law (from Boston).  After a warm welcome and introductions, we quickly settled into conversations in 2 languages.  Meng’s family was very friendly and engaging. 

MengFamilyLeeWe then lit the Hanukah Menorah, since Thanksgiving was the second night of Hanukah.  We explained Hanukah and gave Meng’s family Hanukah gifts.  They responded with gifts for us–beautiful t-shirts from their Temple in Taiwan.  In the first photo of Meng’s family and me, I am wearing the beautiful t-shirt. 

We then moved to the dining room table.  We explained Thanksgiving and mentioned how thankful we were to have had Meng with us for 3 months and have all of us together for Thanksgiving.  By the end of dinner we were “toasting” in multiple languages–“Cheers,”  “L’Chiam,” and the equivalent “toast” from Taiwan. 

At the end of the evening, we said a heartfelt good-bye to our friends and made plans for Meng’s family to visit Rainey on Saturday. 

Meng,Dad&LeeatRaineySince Meng’s family was going to depart for their drive to Boston after visiting Rainey on Saturday morning, I thought that the visit would be quick.  I was wrong.  Meng’s parents had retired from careers in the Taiwan military and Meng’s Father spent a great deal of time at their Temple.  He coordinated Temple activities for underserved people in their community.  He was extremely interested in Rainey Institute and how serve our community.  He asked lots of questions. We talked for several hours.  I provided lots of information about Rainey.  The photo to the left is of Meng, Meng’s Father, and me at Rainey.

We hugged and said our good-byes.

I will always feel a close connection to Meng and her family.  I believe that the connection will continue.  In fact, tonight, my daughter and son in law in Boston are having dinner with Meng and her family.

The ripples of relationships from Creative Fusion positively impact children and staff at Rainey Institute and the multiple organizations that connect to the program.  The experience also greatly enriches my life and my family’s lives.  I am extremely appreciative to be part of Creative Fusion.  Thanks to the Cleveland Foundation for making it happen.