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Living the Dream

by Elisa Rodriguez Gordon

July 7,2008

It was a perfect day at beautiful Lake Norman. While in other parts of our region dark clouds threatened with thunderstorms and rain, in our part of the world… the sun kept shining, the sky was blue with a few soft white clouds and gentle breezes from the waterfront caressing the leaves on the trees complete with an unusually dry temperature of 80 to 85 degrees.

On the lawn of our Lake House, the tent by the waterfront was bursting with positive energy! In the background a DJ played international hits that everyone enjoyed. Some danced while others sang and many laughed. A few feet away, on the dock, kids of all ages where playing with boats, floats and jet skis. At the buffet table people made their own lunch with several selections that ranged from vegetarian to full blown meat lover’s paradise.

The ages in attendance ranged from 3 years old to 76 years of experience. Lawyers, doctors, executives, homemakers, restaurateurs, diplomats, politicians, professors, entrepreneurs, CPAs, community and business leaders with political tendencies to the right, left or center. There were Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews. All in all, 18 nationalities and many different opinions sharing a time of harmony under one tent.

As new friends met old friends, people connected. Happy surprises, old relationships getting stronger and new relationships were being formed. Plans made for the future… our future, Charlotte’s future.

I realized how lucky we are to be in this welcoming community that is so diverse and positive. Charlotte has really changed since I moved from my Venezuela 14 years ago. My first impression during my visit to search for a house in 1994 was of a friendly, nice, kind of small southern town with not much “world class.” The change in 14 years has been tremendous with sky scrapers, congested roads, new subdivisions, the Lynx and the sports arena. We have experienced significant growth in a few years and we will face many challenges ahead. I am not an expert in infrastructure, but I consider myself an expert on people. And while buildings, roads and construction are booming, so has the population in Charlotte with grace, creativity and lots of flavor!

In my personal experience, the Charlotte natives, although reluctant at first, have been open to try and experience new and different things. Like all of us, they want the best for their city, their families and children. I have been blessed with the friendship of many native Charlotteans who shared with me their wisdom, vision and experience since day one and have always made me feel as a welcome addition to the local team. It took me very little time to get involved and contribute to many community organizations and boards, and even to have the opportunity to be a founding member of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce and founder of the Latin American Chamber Foundation. After 14 years, I feel like a native; however, I seem to have kept many of my world views, almost all of my Latin temper and definitely all my passion for people. When I travel, which is often, I truly enjoy myself, yet after a while I really want to come back home! Home to Charlotte!

I realized as I surveyed the group at the Lake House, the extent to which we have created new opportunities for friendship, relationships, jobs, growth and above all a safe environment for our children and grandchildren with great synergy. We tend sometimes to overlook the many positives aspects of what I call the “internationalization” of Charlotte and how it enriches our lives. I personally live it and love it every day at my husband’s law firm where we help bring international corporations, businesses and families to our region. Yes, it brings development and investment to Charlotte, but let’s not forget that it also brings human capital and wonderful people! It is all about the people!

That day at Lake Norman will remain in my memory forever. It wasn’t necessarily the weather, the food or music…it was the people and the love we all share for our little piece of heaven in the Charlotte region! We share the American Dream. Thanks for the memories, let’s make some more!

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