CIEG FOCUS Kindness, courtesy, understanding, welcoming - that is how I see Clinton

Jennifer Graf

Several Clintonians are working to educate the community about the international students from Confucius International Education Group, who will be arriving this fall. On Saturdays, a column will appear in this space, written by people who are involved in this project and/or have experienced various cultures, languages, values and beliefs. This is a very exciting time for Clinton and together we can make sure all students and their families feel welcome. Diversity makes life richer for all of us!

Our group is a derivative of the Hate has No Home group, an initiative of the Sisters of St. Francis. Two focus groups – Trailing Families and Marketing and Public Relations – were formed from those initial talks. My focus today is on the Marketing and Public Relations Committee. For several weeks I have had the privilege to work with a great group of people, whose purpose it is to enlighten and share their personal experiences with other cultures and their belief in the goodness of our community.

Our efforts will continue, but I wanted to share a public summary of thanks. To Lori Freudenberg for asking me to chair the Marketing and Public Relations Committee to welcome our Chinese friends – thank you for your friendship and trust. And to Kara Marr for sharing your meeting room at Gateway State Bank for our gatherings and joining us for an information meeting in Muscatine. Alma Mariano, Carrie Donaire, Lois Seger, Holly Rowden, Leslie Dady Parent, Gabi Torres and Dennis Lauver: thank you for sharing your intercultural experiences and how kindness helped you navigate in a foreign country. Additionally, through these efforts, a guide to our area with maps in Chinese has been developed. Our local media continues to be a blessing to our area; thank you for providing a platform to share and inform. To Christine (Ziyi) Ye, our contact with the CIEG (Confucius International Education Group), we thank you for your patience and guidance. Without you we would be rudderless. You are an intelligent, wonderful addition to our community and we are delighted to have you here and call you friend!

However, please know our mission is by no means complete. We will continue to meet, inform, share and invite others to join us in welcoming our new friends. At the opening ceremony of the 2018 CIEG Summer Camp on July 1, we welcomed campers from China at the CIEG campus. Thoughtful gifts were given in the custom of their native country. All the students were polite, respectful and eager to see and experience our beautiful community.

More international students will be arriving soon and some parents may follow. We ask that you treat them exactly how you would want to be considered when you are in a place that is new. Kindness, courtesy, understanding, welcoming – that is how I see the community of Clinton today and for the exciting tomorrows to come!

Jennifer Graf is the CCSD Education Foundation executive director, president of Rotary Club of Clinton, board member of the YWCA and Bridgeview Mental Health and chairwoman of the CIEG Public Relations Welcoming Committee.