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Embracing the World Leadership Forum; First Annual Eastern European Month Celebration

IMG_9793On Tuesday, April 5th, we went to Executive Caterers Landerhaven for a program titled "Embracing the World Leadership Forum" put on by Elite Women Around the World (EWAW) in partnership with the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

On this day some 24 women from 21 countries were welcomed.They were visiting Cleveland as part of a tour of United States conducted by the International Visitors Leadership Program under the auspices of the U.S. Dept. of State. They came from a variety of countries including Zimbabwe, Guinea, Haiti, Senegal, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Benin, Tanzania, Japan, Uganda, Republic of the Congo, and Mali. Everyone got an opportunity to say where they were from (some with the help of an interpreter) including those of us born here in the United States.

Ms. Rita N. Singh, Founder and CEO, of EWAW talked about her own background as an immigrant fromIMG_9789 India and how she came to establish Elite Women Around the World which is all about women mentoring other women in order for all parties to benefit as well as society. Ms. Singh graciously acknowledged that we were present as representatives from Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

Afterwards several women from the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio area, gave testimonies about their positive experience with EWAW as well as the importance of this day for them. One of them said that this was an "amazing timeto reach out and hold hands together" and even though our guests came from "across the ocean" she felt that there was "no IMG_9796distance between us."This was indeed true because as Ms. Singh pointed out, due to technology EWAW events could be viewed from all over the world now. She encouraged all of us to exchange contact information and make new friends so we talked for a few minutes with Ms. Josiane Peltier who was acting as an interpreter for the tour. Ms. Peltier told us that the tour arrived in Cleveland on Friday, April 1st, and is scheduled to leave on Tuesday, April 6th. She is a dual citizen of France and the United States and had been having a wonderful time here in Cleveland and was very impressed by the architecture of our classIMG_9786ic buildings. She told us that they had visited the Cleveland Museum of Art (loved it) and the Laurel School for Girls (a very enriching experience).

What's more, the food that they have been served is excellent, according to Ms. Peltier. But, as for the weather of the past several days...  (let's just say less enthused which mirrors our own opinion)

Next we went to Slavic Village to attend the first annual Eastern European Month Celebration at the Polish American Cultural Center on Lansing Avenue. The reason that this event was a first time celebration was that it was just last September that the month of April was designated as "Eastern European Month" by the State of Ohio largely because of the tireless efforts by our friend Ms. Laurel Tombazzi, Chairperson of the Eastern European Congress of Ohio (EECOH).

IMG_9806 One of the several letters of support (along with proclamations) came from Ohio State Rep. John Boccieri (59th House District) who wrote that "I commend the EECOH on its incredibly dedicated commitment to the mission of culturally uniting the 1.1 million Ohioans with ancestry from Eastern Europe. The group takes its mission very seriously, fostering discussions and organizing bipartisan efforts to advance Ohio's Eastern European awareness, economic development and education. On the occasion of the 2016 Celebration Dinner, it is fitting to honor the many contributions Eastern European Ohioans have made to our state and country at large. I thank all of you for the positive impact you have had on across a wide range of industries and fields, and salute you as some of Ohioans finest citizens."

The guest speaker of the evening was Mr. Jurcek Zmauc, who served as Consul General for the RepublicIMG_9818 of Slovenia in Cleveland from 2009 to 2015. Mr. Zmauc talked about the history of Eastern Europe and the impact of the European Union. He now works to help to promote international trade with a focus on small and medium-sized firms.

When we first arrived we were given a tour of the Polish Cultural Center by Mr. Gene Bak who was honored in 2014 for his contributions to the Cleveland community by being inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame.

Although there were meat options, we enjoyed a fine dinner of potato and IMG_9810cheese pierogi and Ms. Ingrida Bublys arranged for each table to have a Lithuanian tree cake for dessert.

We really liked the opening remarks/prayer by the Most Rev. John Kudrick, Bishop, Eparchy of Parma who noted that he heads a merged parish (Hungarian and Polish) and firmly stated that he loved ethnicity and has come to believe that we must come to view our churches no longer as "clubs" but instruments to be used by us to serve others. We, ourselves, loved it when he said that "God is using Laurel to serve us."