Week three in January is always an exciting one in Lee’s Summit, and I personally look forward to the three major events that this community celebrates so early in the year. After just a short recuperation from the holiday season, this community kicks off the new 12-month cycle in its own way with the celebration of all what is profoundly dear to its heart, its core values: cultural diversity, character building and business prosperity.
Like the previous years, week-three in 2013 started Jan. 21 with the celebration of a champion of cultural diversity and inclusion Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This celebration is organized by the Lee’s Summit Human Relations Commission. For many years as member of for the MLK Celebration committee and Chairperson of the City Human relations Commission, I witness firsthand the commitment of the leadership of this city, Mayor Randy Rhoads, the council members and the city administrators to issues of social equity.
It is honorable that the leaders of this city believes rightly that when we are faced with cultural differences and issues, our goal is to educate one another so we can all achieve harmony and peace. King’s dream wasn’t a black dream or a white or Hispanic dream; it wasn’t a poor dream or a rich dream. King’s dream was a humanitarian dream. Lee’s Summit is set up to judge others not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
The second major event of the year is the Mayor’s Character Breakfast. It is organized by Lee’s Summit Cares lead by Roby Little. LS Cares has not only embraced character but also diversity. It understands that succeeding in meeting the social challenges of this increasingly diverse community inevitably passes through the building of an environment where character counts and where at the same time people embrace, encourage and value diversity. Simply defined, character is “doing the right thing, even when no one is watching,” and diversity is the “acceptance of differences.” It takes one to do the other.
My personal experience as member of LS Cares Character Council leads me to make the following observations about embracing cultures and character in LS: 1) Moral and ethical imperatives drive culture change. You will easily fit in the community if you walk in with values as your guide; 2) Lee’s Summit puts emphasis on the appreciation of differences and the creation of an inclusive environment in which everyone benefits when all is accepted; 3) This community promotes a diversity model that advocates shared values rather than assimilation of the recessive culture; 4) This model assumes that when groups come together each one will retain its own characteristics and shape the community as well as be shaped by it. No one is left behind, everyone wins.
The third event this community celebrates this week is the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Annual Gala on Jan. 26. The Chamber, lead by President Nancy Bruns, is driving force for business prosperity in this community. As a longtime member and member of the Chamber Board of Directors, I observed this Chamber strongly encouraging its members to do business with other Chamber members, thus keeping the money flowing within the community this making it more prosperous. This Chamber wants our business to prosper locally and internationally.
I am looking forward to 2014 and week three already, so, mark your calendar right now. The location of these three events is the Pavilion at John Knox Village. No matter your cultural identity, get involved!
Emmanuel Ngomsi, Ph.D. is President of All World Languages and Cultures, Inc. He consults and coaches on cultures, cultural diversity and languages. He can be reached email@example.com.