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Annual Summit for ICC-WIN Takes Place at Cuyahoga Community College

On Saturday, April 16th, we attended the annual summit for ICC-WIN which was held at the Unified IMG_0208 Technologies Center at the Metropolitan Campus of Cuyahoga Community College.

Mr. Ken Kovach, the president of ICC-WIN made use of slides to present the history of the International Community Council (ICC) which merged with the Worldwide Intercultural Network (WIN) in 2014. The purpose of the summit was to provide a "unique venue for the leaders of this region's international organizations and their members to exchange information and insights about their communities."IMG_0211

Accordingly, the day began with introductory reports by representatives of several prominent organizations like Mr. Alassane Fall of the International Services Center; Hon. Ralph Perk, Jr. of the American Nationalities Movement; Ms. Maura O'Donnell-McCarthy of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs; Mr. Dan Hanson of; Ms. Pamela Holmes of Global Cleveland; and Ms. Sheila Crawford of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation.

 This was followed by a panel moderated by Mr. Delgado concerning the "profiling" of the international community of Northeast Ohio if not the state of Ohio and the United States as a whole. It consisted of:

 IMG_0196 ***Ms. Margaret W. Wong, prominent immigration attorney, who put forth her viewpoint that internationals are accomplishing some wonderful things in all areas of our society including business and the arts. As for the latter, she said she was really looking forward to attending the Mother's Day Conference at Severance Hall in which the young violinist Mr. Jieming Tang would be performing.

We spoke to her for a moment before she left and she said that she was greatly moved by what she witnessed when she attended meetings composed of "dreamers" aka  undocumented youth who were brought to the children thus most of their life experience has been here.

She said that the young people were standing up and saying " my name is ...and I am undocumented and this is why..."

In short, they were addressing the problem in a no-holds barred,unashamed fashion. Every generation has its problem and this is ours.

Ms Wong thinks other undocumented people should follow their courageous example because thisIMG_0207 would contribute to the immigration reform debate in a very positive manner by forcing the rest of us to confront the deficiencies in our current immigration policies which are overdue to be remedied.

 ***Ms. Lilleana Cavanaugh, Executive Director of the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission, talked about the present and growing power of Latinos from a societal, economic, and political perspective.

***Mr. Eduardo Munoz; Marketing and Communications Manager from the Metro Health System, Community Health Advocacy Project; talked about the "social determinants of health" and how poverty matters in this equation. Subsequently low-income groups, including many people of color are especially vulnerable. We thought his presentation was particularly powerful.

***Ms. Cami Ross, Coordinator of Programming at the CWRU Center for International Affairs, talked about the college's commitment to attracting and nurturing international students and how popular the Study Abroad program at CWRU has become.

 ***Ms. Radhika Reddy; president of Ariel International/chairperson of the India Chamber of Commerce; talked about her journey from attending CWRU as an international student to becoming the founder of the very successful Ariel Ventures. She stressed the importance of giving back to one's community and told a funny story about how, upon first arriving in Cleveland, she thought that the Cleveland Indians were actually from India.

***Mr. Pierre Bejjani, CAMEO president and editor of "Profile News," talked about the prominence of the Middle Eastern community in Northeast Ohio especially in the medical field. He effectively countered the misperception that a Muslim person is likely to be associated in some way with terrorism by comparing this to a person being suspected of being involved with the mafia just because he/she happens to be Italian.

Next Mr. Dick Russ moderated a  discussion involving Ms. Maura O' Donnell-McCarthy, President of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs; Mr. Alassane Fall, Public Relations Specialist for the International Services Center; Mr. Murat Gurer, Director of the Turkish Cultural Center; and Ms. Pamela Holmes, CFO for Global Cleveland.

 The topic was the importance of the development of "cultural competence" which Mr. William Hunter, Ed.D., defined (in a pamphlet from Global Leadership Excellence) as "having an open mind while actively seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations of others, and leveraging this gained knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments."

 This definition was read out loud by Ms. O'Donnell-McCarthy. She then talked about how the Cleveland Council of World Affairs works to initiate this (and succeeds quite admirably we believe) via its programs like the model United Nations.

Mr. Gurer and Mr. Fall weighed in by drawing on their own experiences as people who immigrated to the United States from Turkey and Senegal respectively. Both had worked as educators and as counsellors to other immigrants.

 Mr. Fall recalled a particular telling moment when he accompanied a fellow immigrant on a job interview and the prospective employer thought the applicant was evading his questions so Mr. Fall explained to him that in the culture from which the applicant came his answers were appropriate. Thus, both parties had great potential to learn from each other.

 Ms. Holmes observed that since we are products of our own family and cultural backgrounds a certain amount of "cultural humility" is needed. Therefore, one should make a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and constructive critique. In other words, one should "seek to understand by asking the question" which is part of the philosophy of Global Cleveland.

IMG_0209Mr. Russ invited all attendees to take part in the discussion and so it was an appropriate way to end the morning. Of course we knew most of the people who were present but there were, nevertheless, some welcome fresh faces like Ms. Michaela Craciun who is the daughter-in-law of our friend, Mr. Jim Craciun who was also there with his brother, Mr. Jack Craciun. Ms. Craciun immigrated to the United States from Germany, attends Tri-C, and loves to volunteer at Donaschwaben, the German cultural center in Olmsted Falls where we like to attend festivals.

 We also met Mr. Nate Doresh who learned about this event through being on the email list of Asian Services in Action. He loves to explore different cultures and even lived in China for two months. He thus can relate to being an international person in a new locale.

We spoke to her for a moment before she left and she said that she was greatly moved by what she witnessed when she attended meetings composed of "dreamers" aka  undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children thus most of their life experience has been here.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

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