Global Detroit

Global Detroit is an effort to revitalize southeast Michigan’s economy by pursuing strategies that strengthen Detroit’s connections to the world. We work to make the region more attractive to immigrants, internationals, and foreign trade and investment as a means to produce jobs and regional economic growth. To date, the Global Detroit Initiative has helped launch over a half dozen distinct initiatives in southeast Michigan to make the region more welcoming and to capitalize on the economic opportunity that our international population and connections bring.
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Sumaiya Patel

Sumaiya Patel-

I spent all of my childhood in India.  I grew up in a big family of seven, five siblings and my parents.  We grew up with all my cousins too, about 15 kids growing up together.   Growing up in India was so much different than my experience in US. My mom was the main reason behind our immigration, because she wanted us to have better opportunities and build a life that she dreamed for us.

I moved to the US on December 25, 2003. We were looking forward to our new life, meeting family in the US, and the “American Dream.” Arriving on a snowy day during Christmas was unexpected, especially since our definition of “dressing warm” in India is definitely not the same as in the U.S.  We only had thin-layered sweaters and it was about 15 degrees when we arrived.  But I did not care; I just wanted to get out of the airport and SEE AMERICA!!

Language was an issue for my parents who arrived to the U.S with no English background. But not so much for us kids. Though we enrolled in a high school right away, we were still highly dependent on our uncle (mom’s sibling) who already lived in Michigan, to help us get settled.

For our family, education was a huge factor behind our move to Michigan and the U.S. In India I was never serious about school, but here I had to live up to my parent’s expectations. I had to become mature, serious and determined to be successful.  I made sure I got As in all my classes, because I wanted my parents to feel that leaving their whole life back in India and moving to the States for us was worth it.

As we lived in Michigan, we gradually met new people and made new friends. It was tough the first year but we made it through.  I attended Dearborn High School and graduated in June 2005.  Afterwards, I attended University of Michigan-Dearborn and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry in June 2010.  I enjoyed chemistry a lot in high school, so I took it as a major in college, where I was involved in Chemistry Club.  We went to many symposia, participated in poster presentations, bake sales, and held campus events.

I then continued my education at Wayne State University Pharmacy School, and am currently in my last year. In Pharmacy School, I’ve been even more involved.  I had a Vice President position in Arab American Pharmacist Association (AAPA) and am an active member of American Pharmacist Association, Michigan Pharmacist Association. I even participate in a Mentorship program and mentored students in pharmacy school and undergraduate students who are pursuing pharmacy school in future. I will be graduating with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree on May 12, 2014.

Currently, I work as a pharmacy intern at Meijer Pharmacy.  I have the opportunity to counsel patients, participate in health fairs, immunization, and various screenings such as diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure. My career has made me a more independent, responsible, and mature adult.

I believe it all goes back to my family. My mom has had the biggest influence on me. Although she does not have a college degree she worked very hard and has sacrificed everything to make sure my siblings and I had everything that we needed to succeed.  One of my uncles, Mohmedyunus Patel, has also been a great influence in my career and my personal life.  Family is the most important thing in his life too, and he cares for and respects his parents and siblings very much.  He is a successful Civil Engineer for City of Dearborn.  I always look up to him and aspire to someday be like him. My plan after graduation is to practice as a pharmacist in a retail pharmacy.  I am excited to share my knowledge and be a proficient clinical pharmacist in a retail pharmacy.

Nice post! Do you know if there are any markets or restaurants in the metro Detroit area that sell Finnish dishes?
globaldetroit globaldetroit Said:

Don’t know of any off hand, but you might want to try the Finnish Cultural Center and see if they can point you in the right direction:

Finnish Cultural Center
35200 W 8 Mile Rd
Farmington, MI 48335

(248) 478-6939

finnishcenter.org

Edit: Kate said the following places serve Finnish Pasties, enjoy!

Barb’s Pasties & Pizza, 610 S Main St, Clawson

Weldon’s Pasties, 2123 15 Mile Rd, Sterling Heights

Jimmies Pasties, 33825 5 Mile Rd, Livonia

Mary Denning’s Cake Shoppe, 8036 N. Wayne Rd, Westland

Geno’s Pizza & Pasties, 24705 John R Rd, Hazel Park

By – Kate (Koponen) Brennan

My father was born and raised in Raleigh, North Dakota, an area with a climate familiar to my grandfather Tapani Koponen’s original home. He emigrated from Finland in the early 1900s. My father, Melvin Koponen, and many of his Finnish cousins gradually moved from North Dakota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Detroit to find work in the manufacturing business as tool makers and engineers in the early 1940s.

My mother was not Finnish, so it was my Aunt Helen Koponen, along with my father, who spent time teaching me about my Finnish heritage. Each night my father would read to me from the Kalevala, the great Finnish epic, which like the Iliad and the Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots. I recently learned it was one of Tolkien’s inspirations for The Lord of the Rings.

When I was a toddler, my aunt gave me my first traditional Finnish costume (see photo), and each year on my birthday, she would make me my own loaf of Nisu, the most delicious sweet coffee bread I have ever tasted. I would like to share that recipe for those of you who might like to savor this special Finnish treat. I like it toasted with melted butter and just a tiny bit of jam.

I am thankful to my father and my aunt Helen for instilling in me a sense of pride in my Finnish heritage.

Finnish Nisu – Sweet Bread (Total Time: 3 hrs.)

Ingredients —
2 packages active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
1 (13 ounce) can undiluted evaporated milk, heated to 110 degrees
½-1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed cardamon, seed
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup softened butter
8 – 9 cups all-purpose flour
egg, mixed with milk, for glaze
Pearl sugar or sliced almonds or plain sugar, for decoration

Directions:
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
2. Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, eggs and enough flour to make a batter (approx. 2 cups).
3. Beat until dough is smooth and elastic
4. Add about 3 cups of flour and beat well.
5. Dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance.
6. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough is stiff.
7. Add the butter,  beat until dough looks glossy again.
8. Turn out onto floured board, cover with inverted bowl.
9. Let rest for 15 minutes.
10. Knead until smooth and satiny.
11. Place in lightly greased bowl, turn dough to grease top, cover lightly and let rise in warm place – until doubled in size.
12. Punch down; let rise again.
13. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, divide into 3 parts, and divide each part into 3.
14. Shape each piece of dough into a strip 16 inches long by rolling between palms and board.
15. Braid 3 strips together into a straight loaf and pinch ends together and tuck under.
16. Repeat for second and third loafs.
17. Place on lightly greased baking sheets.
18. Let rise until puffy (1/2 to 1 hour).
19. Glaze loaves with a mixture of beaten egg and milk.
20. Sprinkle with sugar and sliced almonds.
21 Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
22. Do not over bake – or bread will be +dry.

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My life and life’s work have been about communications. Learning to speak English, becoming an American journalist, earning an advanced degree in diplomacy and working in public relations and marketing are all about communications.

 When I was 14 years old, I started a newspaper in my hometown in Lebanon, writing stories on notebook papers and circulating copies to my friends and schoolmates. My father rejected the idea and steered me toward mathematics and physics to ensure a career in engineering.

Fleeing the civil war in Lebanon, I immigrated to the United States in 1983 to attend college and major in engineering. I did not speak a word of English when I set foot at Eckert College in St. Petersburg Florida, but soon I fell in love with the English language, and with America, and decided to become a journalist, a plan that my college adviser considered “crazy.”

I refused to relent. I began working in the printing plant at the St. Petersburg Times. Eight years later, the Times published my first story. I mailed a copy to my college adviser, who framed it and hanged it in his office.

My tenacity stems from the urge to learn, be persistent and be positive. Even when I made embarrassing mistakes when I first began to speak English, I turned my embarrassment into lessons. Today, I measure success not by what I don’t know or haven’t done, but by how much I grow and learn.

 I reported for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the Beaumont Enterprise in Texas and joined The Ann Arbor News in 1999, covering municipalities and business development in Eastern Washtenaw County.

 After The Ann Arbor News closed in 2009, I joined the American Arab Chamber of Commerce as a communications director while completing my master’s degree in diplomacy and conflict resolution at Norwich University in Vermont.

 I have always cherished my experience at the chamber, working directly with businesses and help them grow and prosperous, but the journalism fever continued seething inside me. I also realized the great demand for ethnic marketing and the dire need for immigrant entrepreneurs to access information in their own language about lending, laws and regulations and the changing economic trends. I embarked on Bizmagazine in December of 2012 to link digitally businesses and customers and provide immigrant entrepreneurs the information they need through mobile technology.

 Bizmagazine is a monthly digital magazine, with a weekly e-newsletter and a mobile app, all of which are dedicated to serving the immigrant business community in Michigan and hopefully beyond.

I am a strong believer in diversity and the power of knowledge, both of which have helped empower local businesses, boost the entrepreneurial spirit and create stronger. 

Rudaina Hamade is the picture perfect portrait of the American Dream come true.  She is a Lebanese immigrant who feels privileged and honored to be an American, came to America at a young age, used her time efficiently, worked very hard, and demonstrated high levels of achievements over the years. Rudaina’s commitment to success enabled her to build a successful Small Business and raise a role model family. Today, Rudaina is a proud member of the Council on Small Business at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the president of the Dearborn Chapter at the National Association of Professional Women.  

Rudaina values Liberty and Justice that protect women’s rights, allow them to prosper and live in dignity. She takes pride in the Free Enterprise System and Small Business opportunities that are available to all. Her unique and diverse cultural experiences have enriched and enabled her to become a cosmopolitan leader in the world of business.  

Over the years, being a mother of three, she exhausted every effort to balance between career and motherhood, pursuing a Finance Degree while raising children, and successfully managing a small family business. Rudaina graduated with highest honors, and counseled companies on trade related issues at the International Business Center in Southwest MI. She also authored a book on international business which was used by Lake Michigan College and shared by other International Business Centers across the U.S.

Rudaina’s greatest accomplishment is being a motivator and a mentor to her children, who are now her partners. This family team has developed and successfully operated multiple ventures, to name a few, New York Consulting Company, Tax Centers of America, Detroit Homes 4 Less, and several other joint ventures in partnership with a group of New York real estate developers.

In the midst of the worst financial crisis of 2008, Detroit Homes 4 Less was created. The fallout of the Big 3 with massive job losses forced investors to abandon the Detroit Market. However, Rudaina and her son, Michael, refused to give up on their community, acquired financial backing, and reinvested in Detroit. The family’s core values of integrity, honesty, family, work ethics, social responsibility, and diversity, which are the solid foundation of their business culture, enabled Detroit Homes 4 Less to be an icon in the Detroit community. After six years, this family’s persistence prevailed by helping others while rebuilding the city they admire. Rudaina and her children are the true definition of the American dream.

Detroit Homes 4 Less is catering to low income families, providing them affordable home ownership, and creating jobs in the local neighborhoods. They are sponsoring various events with local churches on educating home buyers on budgeting and home ownership. Rudaina and family are committed and passionate about building communities. They are proud to take part in revitalizing the Detroit Metro community One Home, One block at a Time. 

Brightmoor’s championship season in the 2011 Detroit City Futbol League tells a unique story about how international and diverse our city and region already are. Kirk Mayes, the director of the Brightmoor Alliance, a community-based organization formed 10 years ago and dedicated to serving residents and creating a diverse, economically vibrant, and walkable neighborhood of choice, was approached to help put a DCFL neighborhood soccer team together. What many didn’t know is that Kirk, a lifelong Detroit resident and rising star in community development, is a first generation Jamaican immigrant—his parents were born in Jamaica and his mother emigrated to Detroit from New York City after an initial migration to New York didn’t pan out. (This secondary migration pattern is common for many immigrants living in Detroit, Hamtramck, and other urban areas in the region).

Kirk jumped at the chance to field a Brightmoor team in this year’s league and recruited from the dozens of residents he regularly works with in his job. His efforts yielded local residents from the Congo, Jamaica, and even a young Caucasian who had recently moved to Brightmoor to become part of the neighborhood’s burgeoning urban farming movement. Despite securing these initial Brightmoor residents, Kirk needed more bodies to complete a team, so he tapped into his knowledge that some of his Jamaican cousins played pickup soccer at Rouge Park on the weekends. This outreach proved the magic ingredient and he was able to recruit nearly a dozen soccer players (most of whom were immigrants) who reside in the Grandmount and Cody neighborhoods. In the end, the Brightmoor team fielded a diverse lineup that included Detroit immigrants from Jamaica, Nigeria, and the Congo, as well as whites and African-Americans.

To thousands of new Detroiters, the city is a land of opportunity, where homes can be purchased, rehabilitated, and turned into rental business on a laborer’s salary. It is a city where lending circles spring up and to include hundreds of Detroiters whose only bond is their national identity, but whose practices create a kind of forced savings that enable investment opportunities that can help working families buy cars, save for an education, purchase a home, and even start a business. And it is a city where thousands of immigrants are making significant contributions to neighborhood stabilization and economic growth.

Victor Naidu credits his education, his work ethic and his wife with the success of his Southfield-based IT company. Ramsoft Systems Inc. got its start in 1992 and today employs 170 people in India and Michigan; the company’s Michigan employees focus on IT consulting and programming services. Naidu started the company with his wife, Rama Gudivada, a fellow immigrant from India, while he was still working with Complete Business Solutions. “We wanted to see if we could create more jobs and job opportunities,” Naidu says. “As an immigrant, you have an entrepreneurial nature. The job was not enough.” By 1993 Naidu, who arrived in Detroit from Bangalore in the late 80s, left CBS to join his wife full-time in their new venture. Both hold multiple advanced degrees and a desire to see how far they can go on their own. Immigrants, Naidu says, have “a high motivation. Their willingness to work hard overcomes all their obstacles. Success is not an option for them, it’s a mandated requirement. “They come with their own education,” he adds. “We didn’t invest in these people yet we’re School of Business Administration. “Education is power,” he says. “I happened to come here with a good education, and could easily find a good job even from week one. Education is an equalizer. You need to have an education, a strong foundation in math and science, and a hardworking nature. That combination will bring you success.”

Victor Naidu credits his education, his work ethic and his wife with the success of his Southfield-based IT company. Ramsoft Systems Inc. got its start in 1992 and today employs 170 people in India and Michigan; the company’s Michigan employees focus on IT consulting and programming services. Naidu started the company with his wife, Rama Gudivada, a fellow immigrant from India, while he was still working with Complete Business Solutions. “We wanted to see if we could create more jobs and job opportunities,” Naidu says. “As an immigrant, you have an entrepreneurial nature. The job was not enough.” By 1993 Naidu, who arrived in Detroit from Bangalore in the late 80s, left CBS to join his wife full-time in their new venture. Both hold multiple advanced degrees and a desire to see how far they can go on their own. Immigrants, Naidu says, have “a high motivation. Their willingness to work hard overcomes all their obstacles. Success is not an option for them, it’s a mandated requirement. “They come with their own education,” he adds. “We didn’t invest in these people yet we’re School of Business Administration. “Education is power,” he says. “I happened to come here with a good education, and could easily find a good job even from week one. Education is an equalizer. You need to have an education, a strong foundation in math and science, and a hardworking nature. That combination will bring you success.”

Antoine Dubeauclard was born in Canada, grew up in France and settled in the United States. He’s lived in some of the world’s most desirable cities, but he made the choice to call Michigan home. Dubeauclard looks quantitatively at his decision to conduct business in the Detroit area and can tick off the reasons. As president of Media Genesis, a Troy-based web design and development, talent is of major concern to his bottom line and here, he finds it. “There are really good schools with a steady supply of people learning new things,” he says. “We have a relatively young workforce, and there are educational powerhouses here.” He also cites the potential cross-border collaboration, technical acumen, true seasons and the cost of living as entries in his “pro-Southeast Michigan” checklist. In terms of an immigration strategy for the area, Dubeauclard is of the mindset that the United States in general needs to make it easier for trained immigrants to move here and become citizens. “The ability to do thing with our hands is not going to be the competitive edge this country needs to stay ahead,” he says. “We need to attract brain power, and we need a mechanism to really embrace people with higher levels of education in this global economy. We shouldn’t be afraid to bring in talent from other countries.” Once immigrants are welcomed, they will find their way to Michigan for the same reasons that Dubeaucard did. “Foreigners are not so bent on going to New York or Los Angeles, at the end of the day, a whole lot of people want to be in this country period,” he says. “It’s not about New York vs. Los Angeles vs. Michigan — people in all of these places realize that, sooner or later, Michigan is a really good value.”

Antoine Dubeauclard was born in Canada, grew up in France and settled in the United States. He’s lived in some of the world’s most desirable cities, but he made the choice to call Michigan home. Dubeauclard looks quantitatively at his decision to conduct business in the Detroit area and can tick off the reasons. As president of Media Genesis, a Troy-based web design and development, talent is of major concern to his bottom line and here, he finds it. “There are really good schools with a steady supply of people learning new things,” he says. “We have a relatively young workforce, and there are educational powerhouses here.” He also cites the potential cross-border collaboration, technical acumen, true seasons and the cost of living as entries in his “pro-Southeast Michigan” checklist. In terms of an immigration strategy for the area, Dubeauclard is of the mindset that the United States in general needs to make it easier for trained immigrants to move here and become citizens. “The ability to do thing with our hands is not going to be the competitive edge this country needs to stay ahead,” he says. “We need to attract brain power, and we need a mechanism to really embrace people with higher levels of education in this global economy. We shouldn’t be afraid to bring in talent from other countries.” Once immigrants are welcomed, they will find their way to Michigan for the same reasons that Dubeaucard did. “Foreigners are not so bent on going to New York or Los Angeles, at the end of the day, a whole lot of people want to be in this country period,” he says. “It’s not about New York vs. Los Angeles vs. Michigan — people in all of these places realize that, sooner or later, Michigan is a really good value.”

Chaldean immigrant Basil Bacall built a successful series of hotels in Michigan, then parlayed his success into help for refugees from his native region. Bacall, who lives in Brighton, arrived alone in Detroit in 1982 when he was 17 years old. He joined an older brother and went to work in a drugstore he owned sweeping floors and stocking shelves. Too old to enroll in high school, he earned his GED and soon started college classes. “Mainly I was hungry for education,” Bacall says about his decision to come to the United States. “I really loved the opportunities that the United States could provide. It’s a place where the only limitations you have are your own.” Bacall earned his bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, but classroom studies were just one part of his education. He began flying lessons, and at 21 he landed a job with Northwest Airlines as a baggage handler. He slowly worked his way up at Northwest, becoming supervisor of international reservations, and started working on his days off as a corporate pilot and flight instructor. By 1995, he had logged enough flying hours to land a job as a Northwest pilot. Soon, though, the hectic pace took a toll on Bacall and his young family. He began looking for a business opportunity; he and his brother, Mike, bought a Quality Inn in Lansing. “That was a home run,” he says. “We took a property that was losing money and we really turned it around.” In 2004 the brothers purchased land in Commerce Township and built a 106-room Hampton Inn. It’s now the no. 2 performing Hampton Inn in the state; the top Hampton is in Shelby Township, built by the brothers in 2008. They own two more hotels and several realestate and shopping mall properties. Bacalls various properties employ 145 people. He and his brother’s focus, he says, “is to be the best at what you do. If my job is to clean the parking lot, I’m going to have the cleanest parking lot in my neighborhood.” That commitment to excellence extends to a non-profit organization Bacall founded in 2007. The Adopt-a-Refugee Family Program matches donors with persecuted Christian families in the Middle East in need of basic financial support. The organization, which works with the Chaldean Federation, has helped about 80,000 people and distributed $1.5 million. “I believe wholeheartedly in giving back,” Bacall says. “That is my passion – how do we giveback and help those people in need?”

Chaldean immigrant Basil Bacall built a successful series of hotels in Michigan, then parlayed his success into help for refugees from his native region. Bacall, who lives in Brighton, arrived alone in Detroit in 1982 when he was 17 years old. He joined an older brother and went to work in a drugstore he owned sweeping floors and stocking shelves. Too old to enroll in high school, he earned his GED and soon started college classes. “Mainly I was hungry for education,” Bacall says about his decision to come to the United States. “I really loved the opportunities that the United States could provide. It’s a place where the only limitations you have are your own.” Bacall earned his bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, but classroom studies were just one part of his education. He began flying lessons, and at 21 he landed a job with Northwest Airlines as a baggage handler. He slowly worked his way up at Northwest, becoming supervisor of international reservations, and started working on his days off as a corporate pilot and flight instructor. By 1995, he had logged enough flying hours to land a job as a Northwest pilot. Soon, though, the hectic pace took a toll on Bacall and his young family. He began looking for a business opportunity; he and his brother, Mike, bought a Quality Inn in Lansing. “That was a home run,” he says. “We took a property that was losing money and we really turned it around.” In 2004 the brothers purchased land in Commerce Township and built a 106-room Hampton Inn. It’s now the no. 2 performing Hampton Inn in the state; the top Hampton is in Shelby Township, built by the brothers in 2008. They own two more hotels and several realestate and shopping mall properties. Bacalls various properties employ 145 people. He and his brother’s focus, he says, “is to be the best at what you do. If my job is to clean the parking lot, I’m going to have the cleanest parking lot in my neighborhood.” That commitment to excellence extends to a non-profit organization Bacall founded in 2007. The Adopt-a-Refugee Family Program matches donors with persecuted Christian families in the Middle East in need of basic financial support. The organization, which works with the Chaldean Federation, has helped about 80,000 people and distributed $1.5 million. “I believe wholeheartedly in giving back,” Bacall says. “That is my passion – how do we giveback and help those people in need?”