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Adult Learner Resource Fair; Viewing of Letters from Baghdad


On Saturday, April 8th, we attended two events in the downtown Cleveland area not that far away from each other.

Our first event took place on the second floor of the Louis Stokes Wing of the Cleveland Public Library on Superior Avenue in the late morning/early afternoon. It was the "Adult Learner Resource Fair" put on by College Now of Greater Cleveland whose mission is "to increase college attainment through college access and success advising, financial aid consulting, and scholarship services."

We are proud to say that "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" has established a College Now scholarship and we spoke for a few minutes with Mr. Elton Lytle, Scholarship and Financial Aid Specialist, about how it is administered and the people that it has assisted.


There were quite a few tables there from such institutions as the Polaris Career Center, Indiana Wesleyan University, Catholic Charities Employment and Training, Ursuline College Adult Program, and Lorain Community College staffed by people who explained to the attendees the various programs and financial assistance they had to offer.

Of course we have learned through our participation with chambers of commerce that not everyone is suited for college so we were pleased to see that careers in manufacturing were presented as viable options. Along these lines we were pleased to see several union/labor organizations take part in the Resource Fair such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 38 and Pipe Fitters Local 120 who shared information about their apprenticeship programs. 

Before we left we complimented Ms. Stacy Watts, Ms. Julie Szeltner, and Mr. Jason Miller who all work with College Now for their devotion to constructively assisting others and urged them to continue their good work.

After we left the library, we hustled over to the Cleveland Film Festival at Tower City to view a documentary titled "Letters from Baghdad" about Ms. Gertrude Bell. What motivated us to attend was that the Cleveland Council on World Affairs was a community partner for this screening.

As the description of the film in the Film Festival Guide indicated, Ms. Gertrude Bell was a person of the early 20th Century whose "widespread travels throughout Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the Arabian Desert branded her an invaluable asset to the British Empire during was Bell's intimate knowledge of the Middle East Culture and innate ability to influence major political players that helped establish a stable, post-war Iraqi government and impact the region in ways that are still evident today."

We didn't know anything about Ms. Bell prior to viewing this documentary but seeing it prompted us to want to learn more. Sitting right in front of us was our friend Ms. Mary Ann Kovach who told us that she didn't know anything about Ms. Bell either until Mr. Joseph Meissner, an apt student of world history, told her about Ms. Bell a relatively short time ago.  

Afterwards, we attended a Q and A with the filmmakers who were Ms. Zeva Oelman and Ms. Sabine Krayenbuhl and learned about their painstaking but very effective efforts to combine archival film footage with what they shot on their own. We respect their patience and dedication to this project which took years to make.

Seriously, from what we learned on this day, Ms. Gertrude Bell's contribution to history was certainly less colorful than that of Lawrence of Arabia but just as worthy of the recognition that she is finally getting. 

We looked up the "Letters from Baghdad" at where Ms. Oelbaum and Ms. Krayenbuhl wrote: 

"Our film could not be more timely, in light of the current events in the Middle East and the 100th anniversary of WWI, when the world is reexamining the impact of colonialism and ongoing Western policies and interventions in the region, especially in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. The decision that Gertrude Bell and her colleagues in the colonial office made, changed the geopolitical map of the world and still challenge the region today."  


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC