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8th Annual International Cleveland Expo-A Multicultural Holiday Celebration

Our holiday event for Wednesday, December 6th, was the "8th Annual International Cleveland Expo-A Multicultural Holiday Celebration" put on by the "International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network" known to almost everyone as simply "ICC-WIN" whose mission is "celebrating Cleveland's multicultural communities through collaboration and cooperation on initiatives that promote the prosperity of the region and its diverse people."

The theme of the celebration was "The World in Your Backyard" and it was hosted, in partnership with ICC-WIN, by Mayor Frank Jackson and the City of Cleveland. It took place at the "Global Center for Health Innovation" close to downtown and since "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" was one of the corporate sponsors, we got to set up an information table there.

Other parties tabling in our vicinity were the "Cleveland History Center" which operates under the umbrella of the "Western Reserve Historical Society" represented by Mr. Robert Law; the Vietnamese Cultural Garden Committee represented by Mr. Joseph Meissner; "Asian Services in Action" represented by Ms. Frida Umuhoza; "CAMEO" represented by Mr. Pierre Bejjani; "LaCentre Conference and Banquet Facility" represented by Ms. Beatriz Lopez; "United Nations Association of the United States of America" (no staffer); and the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine represented by Ms. Michelle Gilchrist who told us that she really liked the Holiday card that "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" had sent to their office.

In addition there was a table by a group called "Advocates for Peace and Change" which is composed of "refugee advocates with a passion to serve the community and help improve the lives of fellow immigrants." It was represented by Miss Esther Ngemba, a refugee from the Congo, whose brother, Mr. Mayele D. Ngemba founded the organization about two years ago.

The chairperson for the entire celebration was our friend, Dr. Mehmet Gencer and it consisted of networking with friends and new acquaintances; the consumption of international foods from India, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Lithuania, China, Latin America, and the Middle East coordinated by Mr. Murat Gurer; three international performances by groups representing Senegal, Poland and Mexico; and an international fashion show in which 27 countries were represented and Ms. Ayla Gencer and Mr. David Delgado acted as the announcers.

As usual the fashion show, coordinated by Dr. Nada Martinovic, was spectacular. In addition to the costumes/clothing, its ambiance was certainly enhanced by the music accompanying it which was carefully selected by Mr. Kris Koch, the international DJ.

Let it be noted that we were tabling throughout most of the fashion show but, from what we saw, we really liked the presentation by Ms. Beatriz Colage-Zukowski and her father Mr. Gino Colage (age 92) who represented the Italian Cultural Garden. It seemed like everyone else liked them too.

This annual event is very important to ICC-WIN because in the course of the evening's activities the purposes of the organization including the creation of "interface opportunities for understanding, appreciation, and partnership building among people of different national, cultural, faith backgrounds, and racial diversity" as well as raising "public awareness of the presence and values of internationals in this region" were more than realized.

As Mr. Ken Kovach, the President of ICC-WIN stated, we are a nation of immigrants and Cleveland was built by immigrants and this evening was a perfect example of how everyone can come together. It was Mr. Kovach's belief that "Cleveland represents the face of America for the 21st century."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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