10th Annual Summit of ICC-WIN; Polish Constitution Day at The Polish American Cultural Center
On Wednesday, May 3rd, we went to the Ariel International for the 10th Annual Summit of ICC-WIN (which is short for International Community Council-Worldwide Cultural Network) 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 purpose of this meeting was to create "a forum for leaders of organizations serving international constituents to identify key issues for the international community and establish priorities for action from 2017 to 2020."
About 40 people attended this gathering and most of them were good friends of ours. One person who unfortunately was not there was ICC-WIN President Mr. Ken Kovach who was sadly called out of town due to the death of a family member. Nevertheless, Mr. Murat Gurer, the Vice President, took charge of the meeting and divided us into discussion groups so we could brainstorm over such questions as:
***What gaps in international services currently exist in Northeast Ohio? Are we missing some important areas of support for our international community?
***There is a global culture that exists as well as a local culture. Are these cultures compatible or in conflict? Is there a need for some action?
***To whom should members of the international community be providing outreach? Are we connecting with the youth in the communities, in the region?
Afterwards the discussion groups came together and shared their ideas with everyone and the Board of Trustees (which included our colleague Mr. George Koussa) promised to study them even further and perhaps include them in the 2017-2020 agenda.
In additional to the interactions, Mr. Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle, Inc., gave an inspiring speech about the value of diversity and the contributions of immigrants to the Northeast Ohio area. He recalled what an enriching experience he had when he worked in a copy shop when he was younger wherein his co-workers were mostly Latino or African American.
He went on to share with us that his father-in-law immigrated to the United States from Lebanon and that his stepfather immigrated here from Italy and how much they love the United States, perhaps even more so than the native born.
Going a step further, he praised the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs such as Ms. Radhika Reddy who founded the Ariel International Center where this particular forum was taking place. He said that Ms. Reddy was a great example of how a foreign born person made the American story her own story.
As he concluded, Mr. Ronayne expressed his job that his own children attend Birchwood School of Hawken on West 140th Street because it offers them the opportunity to have many international friends and indeed they do.
As for international events, May 3rd is Polish Constitution Day which celebrates the declaration of the Constitution of 1791 so after we left the ICC-WIN summit we hurried over to Slavic Village to attend a celebration at the Polish American Cultural Center.
We were warmly greeted by Ms. Eugenia Stolarczyk who was inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in 2016 and Mr. Andrzej Stepien who we see frequently at Polish events. Through conversations with Mr. Stepien and Mr. Joe Feckanin, we learned that the Slavic Village Polish parade was a great success with people were crowded onto both sides of Fleet Avenue.
The celebration was presided over by Ms. Agata Wojno who is the Editor of "Forum Magazine" a publication that can be read online at www.naforumcle.com Even though the ceremonies were conducted in Polish, a language we do not speak, this was all right with us because the love of the attendees for their native land transcended any language barrier particularly an impassioned speech made by Ms. Stolarczyk.
In addition, Mr. Julian Sobieski played some lovely pieces on the piano and his son, Mr. Jacek Sobieski, sang to us as his father played. One didn't have to be familiar the Polish language at all to appreciate their talent or to appreciate the wonderful food that was served at the conclusion.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC