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Ceramics Expo at The IX Center; Cleveland International Hall of Fame 2016 Induction Ceremony.

  On Tuesday, April 26th, we began tabling at the Ceramics Expo at the IX Center in Cleveland.

IMG_0456 Our table was located right next to that of the Heraeus Kulzer Mitsui Chemicals Group from Germany and, almost directly across from us, City of Cleveland Dept. of Economic Development table. We talked off-and-on to representatives Mr. Daniel Klingberg, Product Manager, and Ms. Stephanie Phillibert, Economic Development Specialist, throughout the day.

But most the time we walked around visiting other tables and providing them with the contact information for Margaret W. Wong and Associates. Many of the people that we talked to were from ceramics firms from all over the United States who had overseas contacts. We did, however, talk to representatives of firms from such countries as Canada, Japan, China, Holland, Germany, and India.

Among the more interesting conversations that we had were with:

***A man who immigrated to the United States from the United Kingdom and was in the process of becoming a United States citizen. He now worked for a firm located in North Carolina.

***A young person from China who was in the process of obtain ing his H-1B visa.

***A patent attorney from Indiana who had an advantage over most attorneys in the Ceramics industry because heIMG_0454, himself, had a degree in ceramics.

***A person who used to work in the United States when he had his H-1B ran into problems when he tried to obtain a green card. Eventually he returned to Canada where he now lives happily with his family.

***Mr. Tony Minelli, IX Center Director of Food Services. He knows our Mr. George Hwang and said to be sure to say hello to him.

***An elderly man from Australia who really likes the United States and would love to settle here especially since his children and grandchildren are living here. We gave him our contact information and wished him the best.

We had to leave the IX Center a little early so we could get over to the Marriott Hotel near Public Square in Cleveland so that we could attend the Cleveland International Hall of Fame 2016 Induction Ceremony.

At the reception preceding the dinner we talked to Mr. Mehmet Gencer about the Children's Day Celebration that took place at Tri-C in Parma over the weekend that was coordinated by his daughter, Ms. Ayla Gencer, the president of TASNO. We both agreed that we hoped to see it expand in years to come with more children from different cultures participating. We also talked to Mr. Blaine Griffin, Executive Director of the Community Relations Board in Cleveland, about the Celebration of Hope event on the upcoming Saturday night where Ms. Margaret W. Wong will be honored.

At dinner we shared a table with Ms. Nikki DiFilippo; Dr. Victor Stankus; Ms. Laurel Tombazzi and her husband, Mr. Frank Tombazzi; and Mr. Jim Foster who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

The program started with Ms. Olivia Gutowski, who is only 12 years old and in the 7th Grade, playing the National Anthem via her trumpet. She did a beautiful job and played again at least one other time during the evening.

IMG_0481Mr. Dan Hanson and Ms. Debbie Hanson from welcomed us all and reviewed the history of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame who purpose was to "permanently recognize those individuals who have made a valuable and lasting contribution to our multicultural city and region and toIMG_0479 inspire a new generation of leaders."

They were particularly happy about this year's class because it people who had immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands, Egypt, India and Poland as well as representatives from the Hungarian, Irish and African-American communities making this a truly diverse group.

Before the invocation Mr. August Pust, who was one of the first inductees into the Hall of Fame back in 2010, was called to the stage where he said, "My dear friends, this is what Cleveland is all about!"

The innovation was given by Father John Lee, who came here from South Korea, and is a parochial vicar at the Communion of Saints Parish in Cleveland Heights.

After dinner the induction ceremonies were conducted. Those being honored in 2016 were Ms. Eugenia Stolarczyk (inducted by Polish Consul General Urszula Gacek who came to Cleveland from New York to do this); Mr. Arnie de la Porte (posthumously inducted by Honorary Lithuanian Consul Ingrida Bublys); El Hajj Amir Khalid A. Samad (inducted by Mr. Blaine Griffin); Ms. Carolyn Balogh (inducted by Dr. Maria Pujana); Mr. Jack Kahl (inducted by Mr. Dan Coughlin); the Very Reverend Father Mikhail Edward Mikhail, D. Min. (inducted by Seven Hills Mayor Richard Dell'Aquila); and Dr. Mohan L. Bafna (inducted by his son, Mr. Suresh Bafna).

Consul General Gacek noted that Ms. Stolarczyk has been involved Polish radio for 55 years now and said that she was a role model for the Polish Community. Ms. Stolarczyk said, "I love Polish music and culture and am proud to have the privilege to promote it."

Ms. Bublys said that the late Mr. de la Porte was truly "a man for all seasons." His honor was accepted by his son, Mr. Peter de la Porte who emphasized what his father always said which was that war seldom breaks out amongst nations that engage in trade with each other.

IMG_0460Mr. Griffin talked about Mr. Samad's great love for people and how much their friendship has meant to him over the years. One thing that Mr. Samad said during his acceptance speech that touched us was when he spoke about the power of people to transform themselves much like a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. It was a very hopeful message.

Dr. Pujana recalled how she came to know Ms. Balogh years ago from their work together at El Barrio. Ms. Balogh is very heavily involved with the Hungarian Garden and talked about how important the Cleveland Cultural Gardens are to Cleveland and its diversity and how proud she is to be able to be so active.

Mr. Coughlin praised Mr. Kahl for being a "self-made millionaire who is very proud of his humble beginnings." Mr. Kahl took this further and talked about how he came to really appreciate the value of the family unit during his childhood when his father was quite ill and everyone contributed to maintaining the household. When he established his own business he treated his hard-working employees like they were family and this practice immensely contributed to the success of his company.IMG_0488

Mayor Dell'Aguila said that he really appreciated having a church like St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in his community. He went on to say how much he admired people who had the courage leave their old world behind and immigrate to the United States where they faced language/cultural barriers but that is exactly what Father Mikhail and his people did and their efforts culminated in the successful creation of St. Mark. Father Mikhail talked about his early life and how he immigrated to the United States from Egypt in 1973 and came to the Cleveland area in 1975 and made it his home. He was very deeply appreciative of his family, his parishioners and everyone who had helped them.

Mr. Bafna expressed his great love and respect for his father who lived a simple life but gave so much to others as was demonstrated by his contributions to places like the India Community Center, the S.V. Hindu Temple, and the Jain Temple. Due to health reason, Dr. Bafna, himself, was unable to speak so his son read a brief statement of appreciation written by Dr. Bafna.

Afterwards, the program concluded as Mr. Hanson asked, "Is this an amazing class or what?" as we all applauded.



Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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