On Saturday morning, July 17th, the offices of Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC hosted the 13th annual summit of the International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network (ICC-WIN) as part of the Cleveland Foundation’s 2021 Common Ground annual program. ICC-WIN’s mission is “celebrating Cleveland’s multicultural communities through collaboration and cooperation initiatives that promote the prosperity of the region and its diverse people.”
On this day, Mr. Kenneth J. Kovach, the President of the Board of Directors, conducted a discussion involving such committed individuals as Mr. Pierre Bejjani, Mr. Asim Datta, Mr. David Delgado, Mr. Aklilu Demessie, Mr. George Koussa, Mr. Joseph Meissner, Ms. Claudia O’Brien, Ms. Gia Ryan, and Ms. Anne Ying Pu.
Points that were brought up included the value of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens as a place to find common ground and how effective it was when people of all backgrounds came together in the last Spring to oppose violence against Asians. It was also said that we should be wary of “divisive concept” legislation because it might stifle meaningful discussion regarding, race, nationality, or gender.
Indeed, we believe that ICC-WIN is of great benefit to those who have recently immigrated to the United States and have learned a lot through our association.
After the session, we drove over to Slavic Village where we lunched at the Polish American Cultural Center which was having its annual open house. While we were at the Center, we visited with Mr. Eugene Bak, its cofounder, who invited us to return in August when a dedication ceremony will be conducted for a monument depicting both the Polish Eagle and the American Bald Eagle joining in flight to signify the fellowship between the two countries.
Our next stop was the Hungarian Museum located in the Galleria in downtown Cleveland which was commemorating its 35th year of existence. For this entire time, Mr. Andrew Lazar has acted as its Exhibits Director/Curator and has coordinated 68 exhibitions. Appropriately, Mr. Lazar was given a special tribute by Mr. Janos Szigeti, the museum president.
Our penultimate event of the day was a stopover at the GALA Language Academy, for which Margaret W. Wong is an Honorary Board Member, on Lorain Avenue where a community engagement event was taking place.
As its website states, “GALA is a Mandarin and Spanish immersion elementary school…the only Mandarin immersion school in Ohio and the first dual language immersion school in Northeast Ohio” and its vision is “to create a better world through education, elimination of language barriers, and preparation of global leaders for the future.”
We chatted for a moment with Ms. Meran Rogers, GALA’s founder, and Ms. Karis Tzeng who was supervising a table for Midtown Cleveland. Other tablings were by Esperanza, Asian Services in Action, and West Park Kamm’s Neighborhood Development.
Elatedly, Ms. Rogers told us that GALA will soon be in its sixth year of existence and things are going quite well.
The last noteworthy occasion that we attended on Saturday was the “La Bastille” festival put on by Edwins Leadership and and Restaurant Institute for which Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC was a sponsor.
Taking place at Edwins Second Chance Life Skills Center on South Moreland Boulevard it consisted of beautiful live music, acrobats, a virtual silent auction, excellent wines and various liquors including a “happy punch” that proved to be quite popular, and all sorts of great food prepared by the Edwins team which consists mainly of “formally incarcerated adults who receive hospitality and culinary training through the eatery’s leadership institute.”
On hand to personally greet the guests was Mr. Brandon Chrostowski, the founder of the establishment and a most dedicated person.
We, ourselves, shared a table with Ohio State Board of Education members Ms. Meryl Johnson and Ms. Christina Collins, plus, our good friend Ms. Anne Ying Pu, editor of the “Erie Chinese Journal” was there too. We had seen Ms. Pu earlier in the day at the ICC-WIN summit.
As we ate dinner, we conversed with a gentleman who had immigrated to the United States from Switzerland and had dual citizenship. He told us a lot about similarities and differences between the two countries pertaining to taxation and economic issues.
As we were leaving, we noticed “student spotlights” that were posted on the walls that contained testimonials regarding what the Edwins experience had meant to each student.
We were particularly touched by one that read, “I came to Edwins to make something of my life. They were the only ones to offer me a second chance and provide me with housing and a free education. There is a lot offered at Edwins that you cannot get anywhere else. I feel like Edwins is my family.”