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InterCLE 2018 - International Students in Cleveland


After leaving the "Shiksha Daan" luncheon, we turned our attention to tabling at the InterCLE 2018 event at historic Cleveland Public Auditorium on Lakeside Avenue which was organized by Global Cleveland in order to welcome international students and young professionals to the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio region. Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC co-sponsored the event. Ms. Wong herself was scheduled to speak while our good friend and colleague, Mr. George Koussa lent his international expertise to a panel discussion. We are also proud of Mr. Justin Faulhaber, a new multilingual addition to our staff, for seizing the initiative and coming here to network and to learn.  

One of the speakers was Mr. David Fleshler, Vice Provost for International Affairs at CWRU, who told the international students that, while they could decide to move elsewhere in the U.S. or return to their native lands after their studies were completed, it was his wish that they come to see Cleveland as their second home in order that they might have a ongoing relationship with us.

Along these lines, a statement by Mr. Joe Cimperman, the President of Global Cleveland, that appeared in a souvenir InterCLE 2018 booklet read: "It is our passion to transform Cleveland into an international hub of innovation. Our mission is to grow and tap into the region's powerful economic ecosystem to provide opportunity for individuals from around the world to flourish. While you are at #InterCLE, get to know more about Cleveland! Meet with potential employers, learn how to engage with community organizations, network with other international students and young professionals at different schools, and build a roadmap to launch your career. Cleveland is a place for dreamers and doers. It's a place where we embrace your uniqueness, admire your journey and celebrate your cultural heritage. As we all know, this city's greatness is fueled by its diversity, and together we can show the world how welcoming Cleveland is and how much we appreciate those who have come here." 

Before we write anything else, let us extend our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Carl Powell, Jr. now working with Global Cleveland for his assistance in unloading a couple of heavy boxes  of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's book The Immigrant's Way from our motor vehicle along with other materials we make use of when tabling. In fact, if it had not been for the physical strength and moral support of Mr. Powell, we might not have able to table.


Once inside, setting up was easy. Our efforts to make sure that everyone there (some 200 people) had an opportunity to get a copy of The Immigrant's Way paid off well since quite a few of the internationals wanted to secure a copy, particularly after hearing Ms. Wong's speech in which she offered encouragement and wisdom.

Ms. Wong herself came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1969 as a student so she was able to relate very well to the challenges that the young international students were facing. Accordingly, she talked about her first years in the United States and urged the young people to work hard, learn English as soon as possible, put their experiences in a proper perspective by journaling, and learn about the country in which they are now living by reading three newspapers each day (she suggested The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Plain Dealer). 

We have, of course, listened to Ms. Wong speak several times but on this day she said a couple of things we had not heard her say before such as when she cautioned the students to avoid shady websites because one could get into trouble and to not let falling in love interfere with their studies. In our opinion, such counsel is relevant to everyone; whether or not he/she was born in the United States or not.  

Before she gave her speech, Mr. Joe Cimperman introduced Ms. Wong as being "an international powerhouse" and she certainly lived up to that assessment as evidenced by the boisterous round of applause that she received.

 Yulu Li, George Koussa, Monica Ceja

Yulu Li, George Koussa, Monica Ceja

Mr. George Koussa was one of six panelists discussing "Why I Came to Cleveland and Why I Stayed" in which the other participants were Cleveland Police Officer Hamadi Maliko who came to us from Somalia; Ms. Supriya Tamang (Nepal); Ms. Yulu Li (China); Ms. Monica Ceja (Mexico); and Mr. Nan Kwamena Takyi-Micah (Somalia) who founded Micah Specialty Foods, a successful enterprise. During the Q&A session after the panel, Mr. Koussa gave sound advice to an international student who queried him about the job prospects that her major would make available to her after she graduated. He stressed the importance of speaking another language and that this would make applicants stand out from the crowd.

Earlier in the program, Ms. Li, President of Friends of Global Cleveland,  had spoken to us about the potential of her organization to help the newly arrived to Northeast Ohio make contacts and, most of all, friends.


Taking a break from the speeches, we enjoyed a stunning Bharathanatyam dance performance by Ms. Krithika Rajkumar who is America's Miss World National Finalist as well as an accomplished attorney.

Another noteworthy moment occurred when our good friend, Mr. Ken Kovach, who was there tabling with ICC-WIN, received a Resolution of Congratulations from Cleveland City Council  for being awarded the Order of Saint Romanos by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America for his performance as the Choirmaster of St. Theodosius Cathedral for 47 years now as well as for his other contributions to Cleveland's international community.


The last item on the agenda for the afternoon was a networking session conducted by Mr. Valdis Krebs, the purpose of which was to "connect on your similarities and benefit from your differences." Our own Justin Faulhaber participated. We stayed by our table but it seemed like everyone involved in it was getting something out of it because when we left close to 6pm, a good number of people were still connecting.

Justin Faulhaber