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International Journalists in Cleveland on Election Day
Saigon Plaza
November 6, 2012

The eyes of the world were focused on Cleveland on Election Day 2012 to see how the closest Presidential race in modern history played out.

The Council on World Affairs, along with its Cleveland affiliate, hosted a group of journalists put together by the East-West Center of Hawaii to cover the election. They had a particular interest in the Asian vote.

International Journalists and Cleveland guests on Election Day 2012

International Journalists and Cleveland guests on Election Day 2012


A gathering was held at Saigon Plaza (West 54th and Detroit) to introduce the journalists to some of the local representatives of the Asian community. Gia Hoa Ryan, proprietor of Saigon Plaza, prepared a bountiful luncheon.

Saigon Plaza owner Gia Hoa Ryan and Allison Chan

Saigon Plaza owner Gia Hoa Ryan and Allison Chan


The journalists included representatives from Hong Kong, New Zealand, Mumbai, India, Vietnam and Kabul Afghanistan. The escorts from East-West Center hailed from Hawaii.

Yan Maschke and John Hartevelt

Yan Maschke and John Hartevelt (New Zealand)


The informal conversations centered on the efforts to "get out the vote". The journalists felt their respective countries were about 60/40 in support of re-electing President Obama and knew that the outcome of this election was of paramount importance to the world.

Pierre Bejjani, Bijash Mohopatra and Annie Pu

Pierre Bejjani, Bijash Mohopatra and Annie Pu


The conversations were not along partisan lines, but rather centered on concepts. There was much discussion of China and its portrayal as an "evil empire". The general consensus of both local Chinese and Chinese journalists was that the Chinese government was working hard to correct International Property issues, but their attempts are never reported - only the negative gets press.

Alexandra Harney, Jerry Meyers, John Hattevelt

Alexandra Harney, Jerry Meyers and John Hattevelt


China has also been accused of "manipulating their currency" to keep prices low, but the Chinese and Chinese-Americans believe this to be a universal issue, not just Chinese. It was agreed that the disagreements the U.S. and China were experiencing would never escalate to war - they were more of a respectful rivalry.

Mahesh Mhatre

Mahesh Mhatre


The discussion turned very briefly to Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. Some felt the United States, as the only super power, needed to have "boots on the ground" in Syria. Others felt this was a mistake.

After the luncheon, Councilman Matt Zone came in to meet with the group of journalists before they continued on their journey.

Councilman Matt Zone and Mahesh Mhatre

Councilman Matt Zone and Mahesh Mhatre


It was a wonderful opportunity to meet journalists from around the world and hear some of the thoughts and feelings of their constituents in their country.

Johnny Wu, Judy Wong, Allison Chan, Ken Kovach, Arooj Ashraf and Joe Meissner

Johnny Wu, Judy Wong, Allison Chan,
Ken Kovach, Arooj Ashraf and Joe Meissner


It was also a remarkable opportunity to showcase Cleveland, not just for its powerful impact on the election but the sights and sounds that make Cleveland so special.

Arooj Ashraf and Mariya Shahsawar

Arooj Ashraf and Mariya Shahsawar


For most of the journalists, it was their first time in the United States. It was everybody's first time to Cleveland.

Duong Ngo and Cong Doan, Luong

Duong Ngo and Cong Doan Luong


Thank you to the East-West Center for introducing us to these journalists, and us to them. Thank you also to Ms. Ryan for hosting this event with such style and grace. Associations were made that will undoubtedly go on past this election.

Yan Maschke, Ken Kovach, Asim Datta and Mariya Shahsawar

Yan Maschke, Ken Kovach, Asim Datta and Mariya Shahsawar


The Participants included:

  • Ms. Yin Ping Chan, Executive Producer, Radio Television, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
  • Mr. John Hartevelt, Political Reporter, Fairfax Media, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Mr. Mahesh Mhatre, Editor and Publisher, Daily Prahaar, Mumbai India
  • Mr. Bikash Mohapatrta, Chief feature editor Reediff India LTD, Mumbai, India
  • Mr. Duong NGO, Editor, Young and Army Affairs Section, Tien Phong Newspaper, Hanoi Vietnam
  • Ms. Mariya Shahsawar, Current affairs manager, Hasht e Subh Daily Newspaper, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Ms. Liza A. Dorn, Program Coordinator, East-West Center, Honolulu Hawaii
  • Alexandra Harney, East-West Centre
  • Gia Hoa Ryan, Owner Saigon Plaza, Cultural representative to the City of Cleveland, ClevelandPeople.Com Vietnamese Ambassador
  • Joseph Meisner, Esq. Attorney, history and sociology expert.
  • Johnny Wu, President OCA (Ohio Chinese Association) founder of Asian Festival. ClevelandPeople.Com Chinese Ambassador,
  • Arooj Ashraf, ClevelandPeople.Com Pakistani Ambassador
  • Annie Pu, Editor of Erie Chinese Newspaper,
  • Pierre Bejjani, Editor of Profile News Ohio (Largest Arabic/English Newspaper in Ohio) and Senior Partner for Diversity Advertising Agency. He is also the president of CAMEO Cleveland American Middle East Organization. ClevelandPeople.Com Lebanese Ambassador
  • Judy Wong, representative of Margaret W. Wong Immigration office.
  • Allison Chan, representative of Margaret W. Wong Immigration office
  • Ken Kovach, Sociologist and President of International Services Center, ClevelandPeople.Com Russian Ambassador
  • Debbie Hanson, ClevelandPeople.Com
  • Belinda Prinz, representative of Congresswoman Marcia Fudge office
  • Yan Maschke, Acquisition Integration Manager, Eaton Corp.
  • Justin Canfil, International Visitor Program, CCWA
  • Asim Data, President Federation of India Community Associations (FICA), ClevelandPeople.Com Asian Indian Ambassador.
  • Jerry Myers, CCWA International Visitors Program

By Debbie Hanson


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