Houston's International Trade Center held its Inaugural Grand Ball, The Winter White Night, on Friday. Master of Ceremonies Jose Grinan welcomed the large crowd to the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Galleria Hotel and introduced Wea H. Lee, chair of the International Trade Center. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Grinan introduced Gezahgen Kebede, president of the International Trade Center, who reviewed the mission of the organization. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Gordon and Sylvia Quan, co-chairs of the event, introduced honorary host committee chair Chris Wilmot, the members of the Consular Corps and other honored guests. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Congressman Al Green announced that ballots in his congressional district will recognize the diversity of Houston. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
“This is really big news,” Green said. “In my district we have had the ballot printed in English, Spanish and Vietnamese; and I am proud to tell you that next year the ballot, the very ballot that we will utilize to vote with, this ballot will be printed in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and, for the very first time – Chinese!”
Robert Sakowitz was honored with an award for Lifetime Achievement in the World of Business and the Fashion Industry. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
“Houston is a quintessentially international city,” Sakowitz said. “It recognizes and accepts achievers, no matter where they come from nor when they came.”
Port of Houston Chair Jim Edmonds delivered the Keynote Address.
Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
“The port is at the front of international trade for this region, linking with more than 1,000 ports in more than 200 countries around the world,” Edmonds said. “I’m here to assure you that we will do everything within our power to preserve that prominence and to encourage the growth of local small businesses.”
Edmonds said that the port is moving forward on completion of the Bayport Container Terminal and is about to begin major improvements at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal in anticipation of a major increase in large container ships when the Panama Canal expansion is completed.
Grinan presented the first International Academia Award of the Year to Houston Community College System Chancellor Dr. Mary Spangler. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Other awards were presented to:
AT&T - International Corporation Award
Moez Mangalji - International Businessman Award
DeBakey Heart & Trust & Vascular Center - International Legacy Award
UNICEF - International Organization Award
Sandra Bloem-Curtis of Rice University - Educator Award
International Students of Excellence Scholarships were presented to Sumedh Warudkar, a 5th year PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University; Sung Un Lee, in the Honors College at Houston Community College; and Yuqian Wu, an international student of the University of Houston main campus.