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Group aims for more welcoming city atmosphere

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CAMEO plans to expand its meetings this year to include more guest speakers from the community, including the police department, Our Hospice of South Central Indiana and the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department.

The Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization, formed to make Columbus a more welcoming place, will host its annual meeting for networking and planning Wednesday at the Columbus Learning Center auditorium.

The organization works to help people of different cultures and traditions share their heritage with each other and the Columbus community.

The annual meeting will include opportunities to explore booths featuring ethnic food, clothing, antiques and other items.

CAMEO members will also discuss goals for the coming year, including continuing membership meetings to provide education about the organization and increasing community outreach efforts, CAMEO member Hanna Omar said.

Guest speaker for Wednesday’s annual meeting will be IUPUC Vice Chancellor and Dean Marwan Wafa, a native of Kuwait.

Throughout the year, CAMEO conducts monthly meetings and invites community partners throughout Columbus to discuss what CAMEO can do to make Columbus a welcoming

place, said Rajesh Garg, a CAMEO member and the group’s webmaster.

Some of CAMEO’s associated groups, such as the Indian Association of Columbus, the Columbus Chinese Association and the Columbus Latin American Association, have hundreds of members. Others, such

as the Middle Eastern Association, the Pakistan Association and the Columbus Japanese Business Association have fewer than 100 members.

Other member groups with smaller memberships include the African American Association, the Columbus Korean Association and the Trinbago Association.

Omar said as more people learn about the organization, its membership and attendance at meetings continues to increase.

“Our monthly meetings used to be 10 to 12 people, and they are now over 20 every month and growing,” Omar said.

Garg said CAMEO also organizes and participates in various community events throughout the year. It collaborates with Ivy Tech Community College on an annual film festival and has been working with Columbus Signature Academy New Tech High School.

Its students have been attending CAMEO monthly meetings and will have a booth at the annual meeting this year.

Omar said CAMEO supports the annual Ethnic Expo, which celebrates the traditions and customs of more than 30 countries that have residents living in Columbus.

About 35,000 people have attended the festival annually since its 1984 founding. Mexico is the host country for this year’s event, Oct. 10 and 11 in downtown Columbus.

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