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Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce Networking Session; EU-U.S. Free Trade and the Future of World Trade; Ideas for Tomorrow Presented by the Cleveland Clinic; The Power of Music and the Human Spirit

On Wednesday, March 30th, we attended a Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce networking session at the Lake Park Tower apartments on Superior Road in Cleveland. IMG_9613The event took place on the 27th floor so we rode the elevator along with Ms. Janet Hayward who was at the "Elite Women Around the World" gathering where Ms. Margaret W. Wong was honored. Ms. Hayward told us that she loved Ms. Wong's speech and her style. When we arrived at our destination the view of Cleveland was breathtaking. As we were getting over our astonishment, we talked for a while with Ms. Kelly Claypool, property manager, and Ms. Sara Timko, leasing agent, who told us that good number of internationals live there. Along with our friend Mr. Neil Dick, we had a conversation with Ms. Timko (who is socially concerned) about the history of immigrants settling in Cleveland. Along these lines, we met Ms. Caroline Mourad who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon some 17 years ago. On April 1st, Ms. Mourad's business "Planet Beach" will open in Legacy Village realizing fulfillment of a dream she has had for 10 years now. We had a fun visit with Mr. Scott Campbell who owns "Good Knight's Sweep" a chimney sweeping (or cleaning) business. We didn't know this before but Europe chimney sweeping is a much more prominent industry than it is here in the United States. In Germany the sweeps are organized into a very strong guild. For safety and environmental reasons, they can pop up unexpectedly at a residence and ask to inspect the chimney and an owner who denies access could possibly incur a fine. In England, it is considered good luck to have chimney sweep present at weddings. Mr. Campbell said that he may consider advertising that he is available in case anyone here may want to honor this tradition. For lunch we went to the Union Club where we heard a panel discussion concerning "EU-U.S. Free Trade and the Future of World Trade" presented by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs and the British Consulate-General in Chicago. IMG_9623 The panelists were British Consul General Stephen Bridges; Mr. Jeffrey R. Dafler, Vice President of the Timken Company; Mr. Andrew Lorenz, Director of Europe, U.S. Trade Representative's Office; Ms. Bernardine Van Kessel, Senior Director, Global Markets, Team NEO who visited India with Ms. Margaret W. Wong. The moderator was Mr. Tony Ganzer, Host/Producer, WCPN Ideastream. During the course of the discussion, each of the panelists made an excellent case as to why the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP) should move forward. They contended, as the literature we were given stated, that it would increase consumer access to more products at lower prices; U.S. businesses will gain better access to European markets that make up almost one-fifth of the global economy; improve export opportunities for small, medium, and large businesses across a range of sectors; assist small businesses due to much less "red tape"; help businesses already exporting by making the process easier; and increase wages for workers involved in the exporting industry. We know that all of these points could be disputed (several of the U.S. Presidential candidates are opposed to the TTIP) but it would require someone really well-versed on this subject to challenge the people that we heard at the Union Club on this day. We particularly appreciated Ms. Van Kessel's showing of slides that showed how much of a player that Cleveland is in the international arena. We learned that it is home to 2 foreign trade zones; 21 foreign consulates; more than 10 international language schools; and over 600 foreign-owned companies (actually in the Northeast Ohio region) that employ at least 150,000 workers. Present at today's discussion were Lake County Commissioner Kevin Malecek and Ms. Kimberly Holizna, International Trade Manager for the City of Mentor who will soon be going to Europe as part of a trade mission. We shared a table with Ms. Sally K. Ebling an old friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong who really likes to dine at the Pearl of the Orient in Rocky River and Ms. Kathiann M. Kowalski, an author who once did a program with Ms. Wong and really admires her. Before the program started, we talked for a moment with Mr. Lorenz who, while not involved in any immigration matters. told us that he hopes that either through TTIP or another international agreement, professional people on both sides of the Atlantic will see their credentials honored by other countries so they will not have to undergo an extensive educational/licensing process before they can practice their trade. We agree with him on this and hope that it happens more sooner than later. At 5pm we were at the Intercontinental Hotel on Carnegie Avenue for a program that was part of the "Ideas for Tomorrow" series presented by the Cleveland Clinic, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Cleveland Leadership Center and NASA. The speaker for the evening Was Mr. Jim Free, Director of NASA's John H. Glenn Research Center. He was introduced by Dr. Toby Cosgrove, President and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic who said that the Center was IMG_9644one of Northeast Ohio's "most valuable assets" and that Mr. Free, who was born and raised in the Cleveland area, was "a local hero." Mr. Free started working for the Center in 1999 and became its director in 2013. He said that working at the NASA Glenn Research Center and being able to play a part in its achievements was a "passion" of his because NASA helps to "make the impossible possible." Among the things that he talked about in his presentation were: ***The impact and accomplishments of former U.S. Senator and U.S. Astronaut John Glenn who will celebrate his 95th birthday this July. ***How much many of the products that we take for granted like cell phones, satellite TV, and our systems of weather forecasting owe to NASA. ***Projects that are being worked on at NASA such as the progression to electric airplane engines that are much more fuel-efficient and environmentally sound. ***Future plans for the exploration of the planet Mars made all the more timely by last year's film, "The Martian." ***The budget cuts to NASA that have occurred over the years. The money allocated is only a small fraction of what it was during the Apollo series in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Mr. Free urged us to think about what our priorities should be and that NASA has the potential to lead the way into the future. Earlier in his presentation, he showed an astonishing photo of outer space taken by the Hubbell Space Telescope and asked, "how can this not make you want to explore?" Our last event for the day was a program organized by the Maltz Museum that took place at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Tri-C East in Highland Hills. Once again, it was a panel discussion this time consisting of Mr. Greg Dawson, journalistIMG_9663 and author; Ms. Mary Hovanec, Associate Professor of History who serves as the Faculty Chair of the Scholars Program for Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Scholars Academy; Mr. Sean Martin, Associate Curator of Jewish History at the Western Reserve Historical Society; Dr. David Redles, Associate Professor of History at Cuyahoga Community College; Ms. Kira Seaton, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Music at Tri-C West. The program was titled "The Power of Music and the Human Spirit" and it largely consisted of Mr. Dawson's telling the story of how his mother, Ms. Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson and her sister, Frina, managed to survive the Holocaust by hiding their Jewish identities and performing piano concerts for the Germans throughout the war. After the war, while living in a refugee camp, their talents were once again noticed by Mr. Larry Dawson, an American official who arranged for the young women to immigrate to the United States where they lived on his farm in Virginia before he, himself, returned and arranged for the them to attend Juilliard. Later, Miss Zhanna married Mr. David Dawson, the brother of Mr. Larry Dawson and an accomplished violinist himself, and Miss Frina married a pianist. Mr. Bruno Tatalovic; Assistant professor in journalism, media and film at Tri-C; himself an immigrant from Yugoslavia, moderated the discussion largely by letting Mr. Dawson tell his mother's story while the other panelists helped to put what happened to Miss Zhanna and Miss Frina in historical perspective. The amazing thing was that Mr. Dawson did not know hardly any of what happened until the late 1970's when he was establishing himself as a journalist. At that time the miniseries "Holocaust" was being aired and creating a sensation. His mother hardly ever talked about her background but he knew she was living in Europe during that time period so he phoned her to find out what she knew. As a result, he was on the phone for an hour and a half taking notes on her amazing story which he was hearing for the first time. Mr. Dawson said that he respected his mother's decision because she believed that what she had to say was just too grim to tell a child; if they lived in the vicinity of other Jewish families who could offer emotional support it might have been different but this was not the case in their instance. He went on to write a book about all of this titled "Hiding in the Spotlight, a Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival 1941-1946." Regarding the moral implications of his mother and his aunt's performing for the Nazis, Mr. Dawson said that they were not really playing for them but for their own mother and father (who arranged for them to survive while they perished) and for the music, itself. It was the only way that they could survive in the situation that they were in. Also included in the program, was a film made by Mr. Dawson's wife that showed he and his mother visiting Europe again where all of this happened after many years. In addition, Ms. Emanuela Frisconi; Director of the Creative Arts Academy and the Classical Piano Series at Tri-C; played on the piano Chopin's "Fantaisie Impromtu" which figured prominently in the story. As he was bringing the program to a close, Mr. Tatalovic asked us the story of Mr. Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson and her family would make a good movie (as a filmmaker he is working on a screenplay) and practicality the entire audience raised their hands in approval. Afterwards, we talked to Mr. Dawson regarding who we thought should direct. We told him that we thought a suitable filmmaker for such material would be Ms. Kathryn Bigelow who directed "The Hurt Locker" and "Zero Dark Thirty" because both deal with war, survival and the psychological effects of both which is a central part of the Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson story.   By: Michael Patterson  Community Liaison, Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.