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Breakfast Meeting at Beta Banquet and Conference Center;Annual Culture Shock Festival at Tri-C West; Business After Hours Bradley at Stone Industries

On Thursday, April 14, we started off the day with a breakfast meeting put on by the Heights Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce (HHRC) at 700 Beta Banquet and Conference Center in Mayfield Village.

The purpose of this particular meeting was to get everyone ready for the 2016 HHRC Business Expo which will take place on May 12th. We have attended this expo for the last two years as an observer and to pass out business cards but this year we will be tabling there, along with about 100 other exhibitors, for Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

Ms. Angie Pohlman, HHRC Executive Director; Ms. Karen Schaefer, HHRC Membership Development Manager; and Ms. Anne Caputo, HHRC Expo Chair coordinated the event on this day which covered all sorts of issues from parking and then unloading the items for tabling to how an exhibitor should present himself/herself to those who stop at his/her table. Along these lines Ms. Robin Sacks; journalist, author, motivational speaker; offered some helpful hints.

We had a good conversation with Mr. Phil Stella, a business communication coach, about what we need to do to fare well in Orlando, Florida where we are going next week for a human resources conference.

In terms of networking, we connected with Mr. Bill Beckenbach whose wife, Ms. Mary Beckenbach, knows our Ms. Rose Wong through their work on the Women's Commission of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

We shared a table with Mr. Samuel Costiuc, President of Signarama (a sign company located almost across the street from the Beta Conference Center), who immigrated to the United States from Romania with his family in 1984 when he was still a child.

We also briefly talked to a young woman who owns/manages a tanning salon on Cleveland's west side which is frequented by many foreign-born medical students who talk to her a lot about their immigration status and where they would like to go with it.

We had to leave the breakfast in Mayfield Village early so we could get to Tri-C West in Parma in order to table for the annual Culture Shock Festival for the third year in a row.

We really commend Dr. Susan Lohwater and Dr. Sara Clark for working so hard to organize this each year.

IMG_0116On this day there were about 42 tables showcasing such countries as Ukraine, Romania, China, Serbia, Columbia,  Lebanon, Nepal, Egypt, and Morocco. In addition to Margaret W. Wong and Associates, there were tables occupied by representatives from such organizations as the African-American Genealogical Society of Cleveland, Japanese Cultural Club, Cleveland Peace Action, Cleveland Asian Festival,Student Peace Alliance Club, Lambda GSA, Muslim Student Association, and International Services Center.IMG_0081

We got to visit with Dr. Sally Pisarchick and Dr. Mary Sender who both enjoyed going to Turkey recently with Ms. Margaret W. Wong. At Culture Shock they were both working at the Art Therapy Table.

Stopping by our own table to say hello was Mr. Lawrence Sheehe,a magistrate from Berea who also teaches business classes at Tri-C West. He told us that he was familiar with the excellent reputation of Ms. Margaret W. Wong and her firm.

IMG_0088Capping the event was a religious diversity panel discussion moderated by Dr. Samuel LiPuma, Dept. of Philosophy. Included on the panel were the Venerable Shih-Ying-Fa, Abbot at CloudWater Zendo, the Zen Center of Cleveland (Buddhist); Dr. Surinder Bhardwaj, Ph.D, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Kent State University (Hindu); Imam Ramez Islambouli (Muslim); Rev. Joseph T. Hilinski, Delegate for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Pastor of St. Barbara Church (Christian); Rabbi Matthew Eisenberg, Temple Israel Ner Tamid (Jewish); Dr. Mano Singham, Retired Director of UCITE and Adjunct Associate Professor of Physics at CWRU (Atheist).

Dr. LiPuma asked each of them to respond to 5 questions which were:

1) Why is there something rather than nothing?

2) Are the Gods of all religions the same?

3) What happens to us when we die? (Is there a heaven?)

4) What do bad things happen to good people and what is the nature of evil?

5) How does your religion differ from different faiths?

What impressed us the most is that they all seemed to agree that the most important thing that a personIMG_0100 can do is to live a life of purpose and meaning and take responsibility for his/her own actions. Iman Ramez Islambouli received applause when he challenged the contention that terrorists were acting in the name of God; he thus urged us all to start thinking of them not as "religious terrorists" but simply as "terrorists".

All of them seemed very accepting of other faiths. The Venerable Shih Ying-Fa said that when he encounters someone of a belief different from his own, his attitude was "hello, how are you!" and the others concurred.

Our last event for Thursday was another business-after-hours but this time it was put on by the Solon IMG_0123Chamber of Commerce on Carter Street in Solon.As its literature states, this company "has been serving the greater Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown markets with fabrication and installation services of natural stone (granite, marble, limestone, soapstone) and quartz" to produce things such as kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, and showers in both residential and commercial dwellings.

We met Mr. Brad Disandis who founded this company about 27 years ago and, as it turned out, he and Ms. Margaret W. Wong have mutual friends. We got to take a tourIMG_0122 of the facility and got to watch heavy stone/quartz be cut to specifications via digital technology. We had never seen anything like this before and it fascinated us.

Other people who we met at this affair included people who worked at Our Community Hunger Center in Twinsburg which assists a wide range of people including some older immigrants from Eastern Europe. We also talked to the owner of a tech firm who will be needing to take on some staffers in the next few years but had never considered looking into foreign-born talent until we talked to him about it.

By: Michael Patterson  Community Liaison, Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.