A collection of love letters written to the town.
Toledo, you help me find love.
I was 19 when I left my country, Malaysia, for you. Little did I know then, my immigration status would change from international student to immigrant and new American, and I am now calling you home. Many say that home is where the heart is, and others may say that home is a place where you can feel comfortable and safe. But Toledo, I am calling you home because you help me find love and happiness with the people that call you home. You are such a leader in diversity and inclusion, that many of us also now call you home.
I love you, Toledo. You helped me find my soulmate, and with love, our legacy was born. In the beginning, like many new parents, we had difficulty navigating the uniqueness of our intercultural, interracial family – and felt very alone. A simple question of demographics was no longer an easy checkbox for our family identity. At one point in my life, I found myself wanting to say goodbye to you, Toledo. But I never stopped believing in you and your ability to help me figure it out. As I continued exploring my purpose for you, I found that you needed my help as much as I needed you. You needed us, the new Americans in Toledo, to continue to advocate for building a more welcoming and inclusive people of diverse cultures, race, ethnicity, religion, age, socio-economic status, and many more. Mindfully, you recognize the importance of diversity, which make us a better, stronger, more prosperous, and resilient community.
Another reason I love you, Toledo, is your availability to surround yourself with a group of women who are just as amazed as I was with you. Each of us feels comfortable and show many fun things you can do in Toledo. You have given us the opportunity to connect with many others. We feel the love – and with love – we find courage, kindness, and confidence with our ability to learn from and with each other. I applaud you for your ability to figure out how to embrace the feminist side of your women’s community and support our group of diverse women, Women of Toledo. Women of Toledo consists of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunties, nieces and daughters that are willing to share their lives together. Because when we share our lives with you, Toledo, we share our efforts, our talents, our days, our thoughts, our jokes, our disappointments, our joys, our plans, and our dreams. Only then do we truly share our love for you. And the work must continue. I ask of you to help the community to create new ways for people from diverse cultures and backgrounds to identify common goals and work toward coexisting constructively and inclusively. We understand there are similarities to coexist within you. And we all choose to coexist with you, Toledo. Hence, please embrace our uniqueness, and empower others to do the same.
Thank you, Toledo, for the opportunity to embrace my immigrant heritage and grow Women of Toledo. I will continue to be a responsible citizen and identify common goals. I no longer have the desire to say goodbye to you. Therefore, let’s continue bringing together people and groups with diverse backgrounds to learn from each other, while examining our commonalities together. Let’s share each other’s strengths, skills, knowledge, support, and power: because together is always better. You have sheltered me and my family with all your love the past 20 years. You have surrounded yourself, embracing diversity and inclusion of your people, your community. I trust you, Toledo.
My challenge to you and your community members, as we move into the future: Will you continue to be my home?
Courage & Kindness,
We caught up with Nina at Plate One where she was hosting a M.O.M event — M.O.M stands for “Mentoring on the Moments” which is one of the many wonderful events run by Women of Toledo. The events are held every forth Tuesday of the Month and hosted at female owned and operated businesses throughout Toledo. M.O.M is “speed dating meets mentoring” where women come to talk what ever they feel like in that moment — from careers goals to family joys & challenges to basics of living in America. It is a diverse group of women supporting each other in a plethora of ways. If you want to learn more about Nina, M.O.M or the many other great things she is doing with Women of Toledo check out their website here!