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Hello CMAA Friend,

As an organization that helps immigrants and refugees acclimate to life in the United States, I want to point out how President Donald Trump has recently been using the term “chain migration” in recent weeks, as he advocates to limit the legal immigration process that our country has had in place since the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.  What President Trump has labeled chain migration is really what we call family reunification: the process of US citizens and permanent legal residents petitioning certain family members, such as a parent, brother, or sister, to reunite with family in the U.S.   For certain preference levels, an applicant from China and India has to wait as long as 13 years to reunite with family members, while an applicant from the Philippines has to wait as long as 23 years to reunite with family members.What’s more, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its mission statement, eliminating a passage that describes the U.S. as "a nation of immigrants."

The agency's new mission statement as it appears on the agency's website reads:

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation's lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values."

The previous mission statement for USCIS read:

"USCIS secures America's promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system."

Working at CMAA, I am so proud to work with so many talented colleagues  and volunteers who have made it their vocation to deliver on America’s promise that we are a proud nation of immigrants.  The reality is that the United States of America has been built by immigrants, who have been in search for a better life for themselves and their children.  

Despite the cynical view about immigration currently emanating from Washington, DC, I want to share the inspiring story of one current CMAA volunteer, Lucy Chen Kruse.  Lucy was born in Shanghai,China. After middle school she was sent to work in a factory for re-education through heavy labor work. She eventually resumed her education in Hong Kong until she was able to obtain her student visa and move to Chicago in 1979, ultimately graduating from DePaul University.  Lucy entered the business world, and her talent and tenacity allowed her to rise through the ranks of the banking industry, eventually becoming Senior Vice President at Mesirow Financial. After an illustrious and successful career, Lucy has retired, and has served various terms on the Board of Directors for prestigious organizations like World Chicago. Although now in retirement, Lucy has volunteered multiple times a week at CMAA over the course of the past year. She teaches English as a Second Language to several CMAA clients, one of whom is Farhana Memon, an immigrant from Pakistan. You can read more about Farhana’s accomplishments later in this newsletter.


Among the clients that Lucy tutors. she has been assisting a group of friends friend South Asia,
including Farhana (R) who recently won an award on behalf of the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition.

These inspirational stories from within our community continue to encourage me. Despite the (temporary) change of language in USCIS' mission statement, the United States will continue to prosper and grow precisely because of our immigrant spirit.

Warm regards,



Dennis Mondero
Executive Director




We're extremely proud of Farhana and what she has accomplished during her time at CMAA. 

CMAA is extremely happy for Farhana Memon, a recent recipient Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition's 2018 Adult Learner Award! Farhana first began studying English as a Second Lanugage with CMAA in October 2016.  Her goals were to improve her English ability and find a job. After attending ESL classes with CMAA Instructor Vicki Stoll, she tested at a high intermediate level, jumping two levels in one semester! 

Originally from Pakistan, Farhana and her husband, Mohammad, moved to the United States in 2011 in order to give their three children an excellent education.  Farhana has proven herself to be a dedicated student as well as a leader among her fellow classmates. In addition to attending CMAA classes four times a week, she regularly attends tutoring sessions at CMAA to further her listening and speaking abilities. 

Through her hard work, Farhana now currently serves as the Secretary of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) at a local elementary school. She has also served as President of the PTA. CMAA is extremely proud of Farahana and how hard she has worked in and out of the classroom.  Her recent accomplishments are quite deserved. 


For more information on the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition as well as to see Farhana's winning video, please click HERE. Interested in learning more about CMAA's ESL classes?  Please contact Alana Slezak, Assistant Manager of Education & Employment at



Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Truman College President Dr. Shawn L. Jackson joined over 20 elected officials in passing out red envelopes to CMAA youth.

Millions across the globe recently celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year!  This grand event is celebrated around world including in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Korea. According to the lunar calendar, 2018 is the year of the dog, the eleventh zodiac animal within the calendar. Individuals who are born on years of the dog are said to be loyal and never abandon their work, family, or friends.  

Chinese Mutual Aid Association rang in the year of the dog with over 500 supporters, elected officials and staff on Saturday, February 24th at Truman College!  The morning was filled with musical performances as well the traditional act of offering red envelopes to youth. A special thank you to MWRD Commissioner 
Josina Morita and CMAA's Youth Department Manager Margaret Smith for emceeing our event. May 2018 bring you and your family plenty of joy, good health, and great success!



Students from Walter Payton shared their immigrant stories while at CMAA.


CMAA ESL students played "Telephone" and UNO with students from Walter Payton.

Chicago Bears legend Walter "Sweetness" Payton was known for his kindness and generosity off the field and for his domination on it.  To honor his legacy, every year students from Walter Payton College Prep HS actively volunteer throughout the Chicagoland community on "Sweetness Day."  

In conjunction with Sweetness Day, a group of students and teachers from Walter Payton recently spent a day volunteering at CMAA.  These students spent their day actively engaged within the CMAA community, assisting with restoration and clean-up of the youth department area. They also had the opportunity to interact with some of CMAA's adult learners during their ESL class; they helped students improve their English skills by playing various games with them, like UNO and Telephone.  Walter Payton Mandarin language teacher, Louis Wu, who coordinated the trip, expressed how his students enjoyed their day in Uptown and with CMAA, "It was an awesome experience for our students to visit and to learn about different neighborhoods in Chicago, and it was also an honor for us to be part of the emerging community of Uptown, while learning about its history and share some of our own immigrant stories. Our Payton students cannot wait to return in the future and continue to lend a hand to CMAA and its mission."

Thank you, Payton College Prep, for spending some time with us and our immigrant clients!



YMMM mentees & mentors recently participated in a Boxing workshop at UFC Gym Wrigleyville.

Following the success and growth of the Young Women Warriors program (YWW), CMAA recently launched its male counterpart, YMMM, or Young Men Making Moves.  YMMM is a group mentoring program geared towards young, low-income, Asian American & other minority male youth between the ages of 12-18 years old. Mentors and mentees will meet twice a month to complete workshops (covering college, career growth, relationships, health, and more) and activities designed to build confidence, growth, and group bonding experience.  CMAA thanks the Julian Grace Foundation for its valuable donation to CMAA and by making YMMM a reality.

Interested in becoming a mentee or mentor?  Please contact Margaret Smith, Youth Department Manager at



Preparations are well underway for the second installment of Uptown's most delicious running event.  Following the success of the inaugural Dim Sum & Then Some in 2017, which featured over 400 runners traversing through Uptown and Chicago's lakefront, runners were then treated with delicious dim sum courtesy of Furama Restaurant, bubble tea samples, fortune cookies and other cool free treats!  

The 2018 Dim Sum & Then Some is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd and promises to be bigger and better than ever with Furama once again back as the Dim Sum sponsor for the race!  The 2018 race will start and finish on historic Argyle street, right in the heart of Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.


Please click HERE to register for this year’s 5k!

Please click HERE to view highlights from the inaugural Dim Sum & Then Some.




Tiger Tutor, CMAA’s fee-based test prep service, is excited to announce a new Spring Break SAT Scholarship test prep program! Tiger Tutor will offer 10 students a complimentary 30-hour SAT test prep course the week of March 26, 2018. This program is ideal for Chicago Public School (CPS) students who are preparing for the SAT test on in April 2018.

Each day will include a full SAT practice test and two-hour review session, in which students can review any questions they have with the instructor. The instructor will also briefly review relevant concepts, content, and best test-taking strategies. Practice tests are proven to be one of the best forms of test prep and help students evaluate their performance on test day. Enrolled students will attend each daily session to maximize learning, for a total of 30 hours.

Interested students can reach out to Tiger Tutor’s Academic and Outreach Advisor, Nicholas Cody, at or Tiger Tutor’s program managers, Alana Slezak and Margaret Smith, at and

A new tutoring service based out of Chicago, Tiger Tutor focuses on individualized, high quality instruction. The program is dedicated to helping students achieve their academic and collegiate goals by working closely with students and providing unique study plans and curricula.



For the past four years, CMAA has organized Early Voting events in Chicago to promote civic engagement within CMAA and beyond. In partnership with Truman College and the Chicago Board of Elections, CMAA hosted yet another Early Voting event—this time leading up to the 2018 Illinois Primary election.  Gisella Faggi, CMAA’s Manager of Civic an Community Engagement, noted the importance of organizing Early Voting as well as promoting Civic Engagement within the Asian community, "Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the country, yet voter turnout still lags compared to other groups. CMAA's goal is to break down barriers for voters, especially through the provision of interpretation for limited English proficient individuals, and ensure that our constituents' voices are heard. We're excited to continue our outreach and voter education efforts as we move toward the November elections."

Numerous clients and community members participated in CMAA's Early Voting event.


CMAA was recently one of a few fortunate recipients to receive a donation from CNA Insurance's newly formed Asian American & Pacific Islander Employee Network. A big thank you to Christina BucklerAmy Adams and Vaishali Nagoree who made this donation of $2,000 to possible.  We sincerely appreciate your support! 


Dennis Mondero, Executive Director of CMAA with members of CNA Insurance's Asian American & Pacific Islander Employee Network, including Christina Buckler and Amy Adams.  (Photo courtesy of Ngoc Nguyen)



If you have visited CMAA in the past couple of months, you may have noticed that things are looking a little "brighter" these days.  It's not just our excitement for the new year that has us "radiating" with new light, it's the fact that CMAA's office has new LED lights. Eric Mah, President of Gim Electric, and his team upgraded each of the 100 plus light fixtures within the CMAA office to LED lighting.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of Mr. Mah—whose parents were partners of New Star Foods Market (formerly on Argyle and Winthrop) in the 1970's—and his partners Meade Electric and Paramont Electric Supply.  Because of your kindness, CMAA's office will not only be glistening with higher quality lights, but we'll save over $3,000 annually in utilities. Thank you!

Thank you for "lighting" up CMAA Mr. Eric Mah!


CMAA's Youth Lion Dancers recently performed at the United Center!  Click on their video below to see a clip from their performance.    

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