A new kind of young professionals group emerged July 13 when the Friends of Global Cleveland held its kick off party in Tremont. Young adults from around the world descended on the Ukrainian Museum and Archives for a night of networking and fellowship.

Organizers hope it is only the first of many such events. Friends of Global Cleveland is dedicated to helping international young professionals find success and fulfillment in Northeast Ohio.

 “We want to connect and engage international young professionals, help them learn more about local communities, and make Cleveland a home for everyone.” — Yulu Li, the President of Friends of Global Cleveland

 The kick off party was an auspicious beginning, but group leaders expect to make a bigger splash September 9. That’s when the Friends of Global Cleveland will co- hosts InterCLE2017 at the Global Center for Health Innovation downtown. The free event is aimed at welcoming the more than 6,000 international students studying at area universities, in hopes more will stay to pursue careers in Northeast Ohio.

International students are a potent economic force. They are more likely than most college students to be honing in-demand skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Typically bilingual and well travelled, they can help the region to compete in the global economy.

But they are also far from home and often alone as they navigate a foreign culture. Friends of Global Cleveland saw a need to connect the scattered students and build mutual support systems.

First, introductions were in order. The kick-off reception attracted more than 100 young adults from an atlas of nations, including China, India, New Zealand, Russia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Romania and Egypt. They enjoyed international foods and wine and engaged in networking games on the museum grounds on a balmy summer night.

They were welcomed by museum director Andy Fedynsky, who connected with his multicultural audience by describing his immigrant roots. He said he was born in a displaced persons camp in Europe after World War Two and came to America with his parents as a refugee.

“It’s Cleveland’s enormous strength that we were built by immigrants,” he said.

David Fleshler, the director of international programs at Case Western Reserve University and chair of the board of Global Cleveland, told the young people they represented the hopes and the spirit of a multicultural city.

Friends of Global Cleveland is open to international students, international professionals and globally minded young professionals. To join, fill in the FGC Membership Form or contact FGC via email.