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Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice

On Saturday, March 14th, we had several different places to go and they were all quite different. The first place that we went to was the Kan Zaman restaurant on West 25th Street because Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice was having a luncheon there in which Ms. Bea Silverberg and Ms. Norma Jean Freeman would be honored for their consistent work over the years on behalf of social justice and civil rights.

Two people that we have known for a long time, Ms. Wynne Antonio and Ms. Linda Park got there early and did a beautiful job setting everything up. Soon about 70 people arrived including Ms. Sarah Wagner from the IRTF, Ms. Jean Kosmac, and Mr. Walt Nichols. We were very happy to see that there were quite a few men in attendance as well as women.

Ms. Lois Romanoff told us that this event was the one that brought together all of the social justice groups of Cleveland.

We had a conversation with Ms. Sue Nelson who admired Ms. Margaret W. Wong because it seems to her that not just the Asian community but all of the different ethnic communities of Cleveland respect her and she makes a concerted effort to stay in touch with all of them.

We would have liked to have stayed but we had to get over to the Hungarian Museum at the Galleria on 9th Street for a presentation involving three speakers who were Ms. Mireille Winings who talked about Entrepreneurship in Hungary at this time; Mr. Miklos Boros who talked about his recent trip to Hungary with an organization called Re-Connect Hungary; and Father Tamas Forrai who talked about high school education in post-1989 Hungary which was when Soviet influence was curtailed.

Before the speakers began, Ms. Eva Szabo told us that this was the first lecture to take place in the new location of the Hungarian Museum which had previously been the office of a physical therapist. Needless, to say it took a look of money to completely remodel the new location but they were finally able to meet their goal largely due to generous grants.

Ms. Winings obtained her MBA from Weatherhead School of Management at CWRU and now works at Progessive Insurance. Last year over spring break she took a tour of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and the Czech Republic which focused on entrepreneurial trends in those locations. She talked about how 200 new businesses have been started in Hungary recently and the government wants it to be that startup capital of Europe by 2020. She talked about the various new businesses that she visited and told us that there is a lot of young talent in Hungary now and the government is doing what it can do to encourage these budding young entrepreneurs to not to leave Hungary but stay and start their new businesses there.

Mr. Boros is a student at CSU and belongs to a group called Re-Connect Hungary which is "a unique cultural, educational and social immersion program for young adults aged 18-26 of Hungarian heritage born in the U.S. or Canada." In June/July of last year he went with them to Hungary and talked about what his cultural, educational and social experiences there. He was particularly happy to have been able to visit the villages where his grandparents were born. Re-Connect Hungary has only been around for just a few years but it is gaining in popularity because in 2012 only 9 students participated in the tour but in 2015 at least 31 are going.

The last speaker was Father Forrai who is a much honored school administrator in Hungary. He gave his presentation about the problems of the Hungarian schools entirely in Hungarian but information sheets were passed out and slides were shown so we could follow what he was saying. As Ms. Szabo said during her introduction, the Hungarian language is very melodious so we had no problem listening to him, in fact it was relaxing.

We got to visit with a man who immigrated to the United States from Hungary when he was in his early twenties in 1956. A few years later he joined the U.S. Army and he considers his experience in our armed forces to be one of the best things that ever happened to him because he greatly improved his English and learned a lot during the period of his enlistment. Today he is a very successful person and is very proud of his son who is full colonel in the United States Air Force.

We look forward to coming back to the Hungarian Museum on April 11th for the official grand opening of the new museum. There will be a ribbon cutting, good food, and very informative exhibits.

Our last event for the day was 11th Annual Claddagh Ball at the West Side Irish American Club. Pretty soon after we arrived we met Ms. Kathleen Mangan, who was being honored as the Woman of the Year. As we said last week in our blog about the pre-St. Patrick's Day Party, Ms. Mangan immigrated to the United States from Ireland when she was 16 years old so many of her relatives are still in Europe but several of them came to Cleveland to watch her be honored at this event. We got to meet her sister, Ms. Sheila Gill and her husband, Mr. Dickie Gill who live in Westport which is in Mayo County, Ireland. Mr. Gill told us that they will only be here for a week but they like the big buildings and the nice people that they have met.

A little while later we encountered our friend Mr. Tom Scanlon of Collins & Scanlon, LLP. Mr. Scanlon told us that he helped to arrange for the evening's guest speaker; Mr. Dermot Ahern, former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs; to be here and told us about Mr. Ahern's very impressive accomplishments.

Next we talked to Father Richard Antall of Holy Name Church who was very proud that his niece, Ms. Mary Therese Lavelle was being honored as the 2015 Queen. Later in the evening, Father Antall lead us in prayer before dinner was served.

Of course it is always good to see our friends Mr. Brendan Sheehan, Ms. Shannon Gallagher, and Ms. Maureen Clancy who are all judges now.

We shared a table with a very nice couple named Jim and Barbara for whom this was their first Claddagh ball. They have several small grandchildren and Barbara loves making movies with them. Also at our table was Mr. T.J. Campbell who was the son of Mr. Tim Campbell who was honored as Man of the Year. T.J, Jim and Barbara all discussed their experiences when they visited Ireland. We learned that there is nothing like a good Guinness beer in Ireland (due to chemical restrictions the Guinness beers we buy in the United States are not as good), fish dinners in Ireland are among the best that one will ever eat, and, if you drive in the Irish countryside, be prepared to stop for sheep because they love to sleep on the road because it is so warm there.

During dinner we were entertained by beautiful Irish ballads sung in solo by Mr. Sean Fleming who would perform after dinner with his band.

The after dinner program started with Mr. Dan Chambers talking about how important the West Side Irish American Club, which has moved several times to different locations over the years, had been to people who had immigrated to the United States from Ireland because it was a place for all kinds of social gatherings. It wasn't until 1990 that the club finally found its permanent location in Olmsted Township. During Mr. Chambers' talk, we learned that blue, not green as many would think, is the official color of Ireland. There is a blue cover on the Irish constitution and both houses of Parliament are carpeted in blue.

Then Mr. Ahern was introduced and he gave short but potent speech about how he was inspired to run for public office by the worsening conditions of Dundalk, his hometown. He told us that he had visited Cleveland in the late 1980's when it was in decline which was very much the same situation of Dundalk; both had been prosperous manufacturing centers at one time but were then regarded as has-been communities. At the present time, however, both Cleveland and Dundalk appear to be on the way back. Among the other things that Mr. Ahern talked about was the peace process in Ireland and how, after many years, things appear to be going quite well largely due to the United States intervention in the peace process. Accordingly, he urged us to encourage our federal legislators to keep the United States involved on a diplomatic level.

After his speech, Mr. Ahern was glad to pose for a photo with his wife, Maeve. We asked him about immigration reform pertaining to the United States and Ireland and he told us that he had talked about this issue with U.S. Senator John McCain and the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy.

Before we went home we spent some time in the bar listening to an energetic band named "Crusin" which was billed as the "hottest show band of the power Motown sound" and we liked it that such diversity was respected here because in one room there was an Irish band and in this room there was a Motown band which made for an unusual but welcomed combination.

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