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ODA's Annual International Festival

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Just over a week ago on May 11th, we attended another City Club program entitled "After the Bell: The Power of After School and Summer Programs" in which we met two fine people who are Dr. Annemarie M. Grassi, Ph.D. and Mr. Ed Stockhausen who are both strongly associated with "Open Doors Academy" or ODA (see http://www.opendoorsacademy.org/about) which provides "out-of-school enrichment programming in a safe and structured environment."

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Accordingly, Dr. Grassi is the Founder and CEO of the ODA and Mr. Stockhausen is the Chief Advancement Officer. They invited us to attend ODA's annual International Festival which took place on Friday, May 18th, at Cleveland Heights High School and consisted of performances that celebrate various cultures, delicious international food, and display tables wherein different campuses organized exhibits concerning a country assigned to them. 

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Thus, we learned new things about such places as Korea, Puerto Rico, Japan, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, West Africa, Russia, India and Ireland from middle schoolers.

High school alumni of the ODA had a different assignment which was to create a display table around a socially relevant issue so:

****The Cleveland Heights Alumni program tackled the need for an indoor community center aka "The Severance Center".

****The Cleveland Central Catholic Alumni Program researched the vacant housing issue in Slavic Village.

****The Euclid Alumni Program challenged us to improve community relations with the youth.

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****The Urban Community Alumni Program set its sights on the need to welcome Puerto Ricans into our community who have been displaced by catastrophic weather conditions in their homeland.

Needless to say, all of the above issues are especially relevant at this time but we were particularly drawn to the Urban Community Alumni Program offering because it concerned immigration. We learned that since Hurricane Maria, 275 students from Puerto Rico have enrolled in the CMSD which has worked hard to help them but unfortunately several schools have stopped accepting applicants because there are not enough resources to aid any more students with limited English proficiency. It also contained an interview with Cleveland City Councilperson Jasmin Santana who has done a lot to aid the newly arrived Puerto Ricans.

It was well worth our time to have visited with Dr. Grassi and Mr. Stockhausen that day at the City Club and we hope to attend more ODA programs in the future. We also want to commend their assistant, Ms. Maggie Brandt, who was instrumental in putting this wonderful evening together.

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC