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Out & About in Cleveland

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Mentor Chamber of Commerce Features Dr. Nancy Rodway of Lake Health

Our first event for Tuesday was the Mentor Chamber of Commerce luncheon taking place on this day at LaMalfa Center. One of the people at our table said that the event was very subdued because their were fewer people there and it didn't seem like people were talking as much as usual. We all attributed this to getting back in the grove after a three day weekend. The speaker for the day was Dr. Nancy Rodway of Lake Health who talked about ways that she believed that one's eating habits could be improved upon.

We talked to a young man named Tyler about our day at the zoo last Saturday with European Adoption Consultants and it turned out that he had been adopted from Peru when he was four years old and his little sister was adopted from China. We asked him what it was like immigrating here from another country and he replied that it was so long ago that he doesn't remember that much about Peru and that life in the United States was the only life that he knew. We exchanged information and agreed to talk to each other at upcoming summer events.

Needless to say, since we belong to several chambers, we plan to have an active summer regardless of the temperature.

On Tuesday night we went to the Rotunda at Cleveland City Hall for the Asian Heritage Day Celebration put on by the Community Relations Board (CRB) of which our very good friend, Ms. Chia-Min Chen is the Asian Liaison. As soon as we walked into the City Hall via the City Hall garage, we were warmly greeted and signed in by Mr. Ed Romero, Risk Manager for the City of Cleveland, in a positive manner that set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Needless to say when we walked upstairs, everyone was making last minute preparations for the event. Unlike other affairs that we have attended in the Rotunda, everyone was assigned a specific table and a specific seat. Spouses/partners were often not seated together because it was one of the goals for the evening for the attendees to meet and comingle with people that they ordinarily wouldn't talk to; and there were city officials seated at each table so that people could talk to them about recent/future goings on in our city.

Our first visit was with Ms. Kathleen H. Crowther, President of the Cleveland Restoration Society. There with Ms. Crowther was Mr. Zeshi Wang, a high school student from Xian Shaany in China who is being hosted by Ms. Crowther's family. Along these lines, Ms. Crowther's son will take a trip to China this summer and stay with Mr. Wang's family.

Another good conversation that we had involved Mr. Anthony Stella, Project Coordinator with the City of Cleveland Dept. of Economic Development; and Mr. Qadeer Ahmed and Mr. Joseph Jones both of whom have important jobs at the Hampton Inn on East 9th Street. We talked for about five minutes about Cleveland's economic development issues and the pressures faced by small businesses just getting started, one of which was what is the best way to deal with success; we learned that it can be more complicated than what one initially thinks.

Seated at our table were Ms. Betty Ivory who was just hired by the civil service department of the City of Cleveland who told us about a person that she once referred to Margaret W. Wong and Associates, who had immigrated to the United States from Shanghai. Sitting beside Ms. Ivory was Ms. Margaret Hunter-McDonald who helps out a lot with ethnic festivals in Cleveland including the Asian Festival. The other people at our table were our very good friends, Sister Rita Mary Harwood and Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan; Mr. Blaine Griffin, Executive Director of the CRB; and Ms. Crowther and Mr. Wang.

The brief ceremony was presided over by Pastor Grady Stevenson, Project Director at the CRB. The accomplished pianist, Ms. Victoria Wagner played the National Anthem and Mr. Griffin and Mayor Frank Jackson each spoke for a moment or two about how Cleveland's cultural diversity greatly contributes to making it the fine city that it is.

When it was Ms. Chen's turn to speak she said that the evening was not about making speeches but about "all of us breaking bread together so we all get to know each other." So Ms. Chen urged us all to "talk away and ask questions of each other." Ms. Chen concluded by talking about the local establishments that provided the food, coffee, and tea for the evening. These were "Vintage Coffee and Tea" and "pHuel matters" which, as Ms. Chen explained, were small businesses started by immigrant entrepreneurs which were contributing to Cleveland's economic renaissance.

We took Ms. Chen's advice and had several more conversations as we either stood in line for food, ate dinner, or walked around after eating. One of these was with Dr. Heng Wang, MD, PhD, the Medical Director of the DDC Clinic/Center for Special Needs Children who enthusiastically thanked Ms. Margaret W. Wong for all of the support that she has given them over the years. Ms. Margaret W. Wong's name came up again when we talked to Ms. Sc Jeong with "e breze Interactive Agency" because Ms. Wong helped him through the immigration process about eight years ago.

Perhaps the most important conversation of all took place between Mr. Blaine Griffin and young Mr. Zeshi Wang who asked Mr. Griffin about Cleveland's educational system. We thought that Mr. Griffin gave a very fair summation of the problems and what caused them to be, the main one being the uneven amount of funding allotted to different areas. He took into account how things have improved in some ways and gave constructive suggestions about what could be done to make other things better. Mr. Wang talked to him about conditions in China and they both agreed, as did everyone at our table who was listening, that education is indeed the key to progress and

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