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Annual Meeting of Cleveland Council of World Affairs (CCWA)

At the City Club on Wednesday we shared a table with Mr. James Collins who have been involved with several U.N. projects in New York. We saw him again later that afternoon at the Cleveland Council of World Affairs (CCWA) annual meeting and volunteer recognition event at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts. Also there was our friend, Ms.Barbara R. Hawkins, CCWA Board of Directors, who was very sorry that she couldn't attend the City Club program concerning productivity in one's later years as much as she wanted to.

IMG_1850 Another person that we encountered at the CCWA meeting were Professor Thomas Uthup, Ph.D., Founder and President  of Friends of UN Alliance of Civilizations and instructor at Baldwin Wallace University, who told us that he admires the current government in Canada for the way it is trying to integrate immigrants into their society. It seems that the Prime Minister of Canada is taking a very international approach when selecting his cabinet so we plan to check this out.

The CCWA program began with Dr. Wael Khoury paying a special tribute to Mr. Michael Meissner, Chairman of the CCWA Board, who recently passed very untimely.

Then Ms. Maura O'Donnell, CEO of the CCWA, reviewed many of the endeavors her organization has undertakenIMG_1852 over the last year including speaker programs; the Model UN; programs within schools and community organizations; one of our own favorites, Happy Dog Takes on the World; and the promotion of citizen diplomacy via "volunteers who eagerly conduct person-to-person diplomacy with hundreds of global visitors to Cleveland through the U.S. Dept of States' International Visit or Leadership Program and other exchanges."

Ms. O'Donnell introduced the entire staff of the CCWA and explained what each one of them did. This was followed by Mr. Charles Polinko, Program Coordinator Model UN, and Ms. Katie Ferman, Program Officer for International Visitors, giving awards to the students, organizations and families who really distinguished themselves. We were happy that the Community Partner Award went to US Together which helps refugees to resettle in the Cleveland area.

Finally, Ms. Heather M. Hodges, President and Ambassador-in-Residence, introduced the keynote speaker who was Dr. Jennifer Clinton, Ph.D., the President of Global Ties U.S. which, as its website states, "strengthens relationships between individuals and nations by making international exchange programs more effective."IMG_1847

Ms. Clinton told some stories about individual members of Global Ties U.S. including a woman in Indianapolis who is raising several special needs children. She knows that these children will never have the opportunity to actually see the world themselves so she hosts people from all over the world so that the children can see and understand the world through interacting with these visitors. Another active member is a retired C.I.A. member who believes that he is making more of a difference working with Global Ties U.S. than he was when he was working with the C.I.A.

Wikipedia defines citizen diplomacy as "the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility, to help shape U.S. foreign relations 'one handshake at a time' and citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers or tourists."IMG_1837

Thus the message that Dr. Clinton really wanted to impart was that citizen diplomacy is an integral part of shaping today's world and has the potential to be enormously effective especially in countries with repressive governments.

In response to a question by Mr. Steve Petras about the current nationalistic trend reflected in the voting patterns of many countries, Dr. Clinton said that she is very hopeful about the future because millennials see themselves as international citizens who hope to spend time working abroad.

For us, there was an excellent example of a positive international interaction present at that very meeting. We got a real treat when we met Mr. Tim Quinn who lives in Westlake with his family who are hosting Miss Irem Kasap, a young student from Kosovo who is attending Magnificat High School in Rocky River. Ms. Kasap has been living with them for 10 months and Mr. Quinn said that it was an "interesting" experience for everyone. Ms. Kasap and the rest of the Quinn family were delighted to pose for a photograph for our blog.

Thankfully, we had enough time after the CCWA meeting to still attend the last part of a Plexus networking event at the Clifton Wine and Martini Bar on Clifton Blvd.

Even though the gathering was starting to wind down, we still got to say hello to many old friends and spent some time getting to know Mr. Rick Taylor, a nice man who is the finance person for an architectural firm as well as being actively involved in the Human Rights Campaign.

We also met, for the first, time a young man named Jackug who immigrated to the United States from Poland 14 years ago.

We had an especially good time talking to Jacki, who an insurance person, and Alex, who is a realtor. Jacki and Alex told us that Plexus is great for hooking up people who can share their expertise with each other. For instance, they collaborated on a project together regarding the purchase of a piece of property wherein Alex was the realtor involved and Jacki provided the necessary insurance.

We told Jacki and Alex to keep us in mind because the party who bought the property might have a relative living overseas that they might want to bring to the United States to help them occupy it. Then again, they might need the services of Margaret W. Wong and Associates to help them move the foreign-born relative out of the country so he/she could NOT occupy the property.

Either way, we might be of use.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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