Diversity matters – and ORMS knows this
I said it before and I will continue to stress this topic: The world may not become smaller, but because our mobility has been improving so much in the last 100 years, our communities are becoming increasingly multi-cultural and multi-ethnical. There are residents from more than 60 different nations and backgrounds living in Bradley County and across the Southeast of Tennessee today.
Unlike in the past, when the USA were generally considered a “melting pot of cultures”, today’s world features a multitude of social groups who sometimes live and work next to each other – or in the best-case scenario – with each other.
That’s why I prefer the metaphor of a mosaic over the melting pot. All of us are parts of something bigger. Therefore it is necessary to understand where our neighbors come from and how their views on life may differ from our own. Understanding somebody else’s perspective not only makes us good neighbors – it broadens our horizon and it should helps us realize that not everything we think of as being “right” and “true” is right and true in a universal sense.
One of the organizations that embrace cultural, ethnical and national diversity in our community is ORMS – Ocoee Region Multicultural Services with its Cleveland Mosaic Center. I am proud to be a member of the ORMS board and our achievements in the past calendar year. We have big plans for the future and we are confident that our coming projects will benefit the entire community of the Ocoee region.
Currently ORMS is in the process of adjusting its leadership. While our two main officials – Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland as Co-Chairman and Lee University VP Gary Ray as Board President – will remain unchanged, the board has decided to appoint a number of additional leaders to assist in growing the organization. Come fall we should have a leadership in place that will reflect the multi-cultural character of our region and that will put our projects and plans into action.
Here is what the Cleveland Daily Banner had to say about this:
Multicultural agency seeks nominees
The nominating committee for the 2010 Ocoee Regional Multicultural Services is looking for people interested in serving on the organizations governing board.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, said, he envisioned an organization aimed at helping legal immigrants assimilate into city life and benefit from educational and business opportunities available in the city and Bradley County.
“This would be a good opportunity for someone new to our city to become involved,” he said. “Who has better knowledge of how to help others fit in than someone who has gone through it themselves.”
ORMS President Gary Ray said it is important for leaders to step forward who can help continue building on the success of a slate of summer activities such as the crash course in German, the summer cultural camp for youth hosted by the Museum Center at Five Points and the German Way seminar aimed at identifying the differences and common characteristics shared by people in both countries.
“When WACKER and Volkswagen people move into this area and hit the education system they will find what they are looking for and that was followed up by Cleveland State Community College hosting an interpreters training session because interpreters are becoming more and more requested,” Ray said.
The organization strives to meet the needs of legal immigrants in three areas. The first is to help people assimilate on the individual and family level; secondly, to take advantage of educational opportunities by providing English language courses and cultural sensitivity training — anything that will help people become more aware of the value of diversity.
“Even if they are just taking a trip overseas and they want to learn conversational Spanish in a way that’s not offensive,” Ray said. “A new area is emerging in business development where we provide cultural services to businesses and organizations to help foster international business development.”
Hispanic and Russian cultures represent the largest groups among the 62 foreign nations in Cleveland.
“Our mission is to support legal immigrants to help them assimilate and become productive and recognize those who are contributing by spotlighting them as role models,” he said.
It is those role models Ray is asking to serve or if someone may nominate another person. Either way, nominees will be contact to see if they are willing to serve.
“In our Sept. 29 meeting, we will vote on those that are willing to serve,” Ray said.
For more information, please contact nominating committee members Brenda Sheehy by e-mail at email@example.com; Michelle Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Eloise Waters, Eloise.email@example.com