THE FUTURE OF FASHION: Maria Pinto launches the M2057 Collection for “Women-on-the-Go”

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Ciao Signori!
(Hello Ladies!)
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I can tell you the exact day I became acquainted with Chicago fashion designer Maria Pinto. It was August 25, 2008 when Michelle Obama walked out on stage at the Democratic National Convention to speak about her husband Senator Barack Obama.  The dress was feminine–yet professional.  It was simple–yet structured.  The color was not politically traditional….it was a striking teal color.

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Sasha Obama, 7, daughter of Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., blows a kiss to her dad, while he addresses the gathering via- satellite at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Monday, Aug. 25, 2008. Looking on are Michelle Obama, left, wife of the  Democratic presidential candidate and daughter Malia, 10.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Michelle and her girls, with Sasha blowing a kiss to her dad while he addresses the Democratic National Convention via satellite on Aug. 25, 2008.   

Michelle is wearing a Maria Pinto design

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Maria’s concept for her M2057 Collection
“Today’s ‘woman-on-the-go’ was at the front of my mind when designing M2057. The collection reflects high quality design integrity, fit, and comfort, while being low maintenance and easy to care for. The fabrics all have stretch, are machine washable, and pack extremely well.  The styles address a variety of women’s body types, so customers can always find the most flattering look for them. M2057 is your go-to dress that you love wearing because it’s no fuss but also makes you feel beautiful.”   To Read More; click on link below 
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“Fashion and The Field Museum Collection by Maria Pinto”
 
Maria Pinto adjusting an artifact for an exhibit she co-curated; 
now part of the permanent collection of The Field Museum of 
Natural History in Chicago; one of the largest in the world and 
maintains its status as a premier natural history museum 
through size & quality of its educational & scientific programs. 
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Viewing the M2057 Collection:   
Click on site link below.  To receive updates of Maria’s latest designs, news articles, events, etc. add your name to her newsletter located on the M2057 site..
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Isabella, Gia, Franca and Jesse are the dress names
View the entire new M2057 Collection at link above 
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Una giornata fantastica!
(Have a Fantastic Day!)
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Camille

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Leave Your Footprint – One Day Without Shoes – April 29, 2014

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Hello Everyone:
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TOMS Shoes is one of my favorite companies.  Find out why there are 1,000 events across 50 countries worldwide going “One Day Without Shoes” on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.   (click on event page & video below)
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Leave Your Footprint!
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Camille
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Morning Rituals that Steep Your Soul

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What morning rituals start your day?
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Oprah’s  morning ritual “Steeps Your Soul” which I know is a major part of her success being that passion, commitment and gratitude walk hand in hand..
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Oprah & Deepak “Finding Your Flow” starts  Mon., April 14th
 
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Namaste!
Tea & Opera founder 2004
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Camille

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Wayne S. Brown named President. & CEO of the Detroit Opera House

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Hello Everyone:
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This is the story of two giants leading the way on the business of Opera,  two of opera’s rising stars and two operas at The Detroit Opera House. (DOH).
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David DiChiera, 79 former Founder and General Manager of Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) home to The Detroit Opera House (DOH) is the stuff that legends are written about.  His vision has made it possible for the past 43 years to build one of the leading opera companies in the United States.
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When David decided it was time to leave his business role; the opera world knew it would take someone of David’s caliber to fill his position.  
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Monograph recounts contributions of 2013 Kresge Eminent Artist David DiChiera.
David DiChiera monograph cover
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The Kresge Foundation presented the 2013 Eminent Artist David DiChiera with a commemorative monograph celebrating his life and work. 

Mr. DiChiera received the monograph at the Detroit Opera House a year ago where a full house applauded his career and commitment to the community. Reply to this e-mail for a complimentary copy of David DiChiera’s monograph.

The Search

The search was on and Wayne S. Brown, Director of Music and Opera for the National Endowment for the Arts since 1997 and a native Detroit was named President and CEO of the Michigan Opera Theatre. David will remain as Artistic Director of the Detroit Opera House.  
The video below is Wayne Brown’s introduction and remarks after the selection was made in December 2013.

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Wayne S. Brown named President & Chief Executive Officer Michigan Opera Theatre - 6 min. video

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Wayne Brown, David DiChiera, Victor Mendelson
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Wayne Brown, David DiChiera, Victor Mendelson
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“When I’m casting a role and there are two people that are equally talented, I will choose the person of color because opera needs to become completely integrated in terms of diversity.” 
–David DiChiera
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MOT dives deep and comes up with pearls and gems galore”.  

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Above was Encore Michigan’s headline in 2012 for the DOH opera The Pearl Fishers. The two leading men are African-American tenor Noah Stewart and Panamanian-American baritone Nmon Ford.  Both Stewart and Ford are two examples of DiChiera’s promotion and support of singers of color, refusing to honor the color line still existing in opera today.
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Opera Summary
Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) is an opera by the French composer Georges Bizet.  Set in ancient times on the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka); the opera tells the story of how two men’s vow of eternal friendship is threatened by their love for the same woman, whose own dilemma is the conflict between secular love and her sacred oath as a priestess. The friendship duet Au fond du temple saint“, generally known as “The Pearl Fishers Duet”, is one of the best-known numbers in Western opera.
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In the brief clip from DOH 2012 dress rehearsal of The Pearl Fishers; you’ll meet these two leading men.
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Noah Stewart, tenor as Nadir
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 Nmon Ford, baritone as Zurga
Leah Partridge, soprano as Leila
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A View from the Bridge ends this weekend; originally a play by Arthur Miller before becoming an opera.  The story mirrors On the Waterfront.
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A View from the Bridge
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Turandot
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Turandot May 10th=18th, 2014 
In ancient Peking, a beautiful, bloodthirsty princess, Turandot, resolves to never let any man possess her. Any suitor must answer three riddles, or die. But a mysterious suitor enters with a riddle of his own. Puccini’s final opera is also his most musically adventurous.
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Reply to this e-mail for a complimentary copy of David DiChiera’s monograph.
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See you at the Opera!
Tea & Opera, founder 2004
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Camille
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First Lady Michelle Obama on China’s “Panda Diplomacy” & “A Taste of Tibetan Culture”

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熊貓外交
(Panda Diplomacy)
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First Lady Michelle Obama, Mrs. Robinson, Maia and Sasha feed apples to Giant Pandas during 
their visit to Chengdu Panda Base in Chengdu, China on March 26, 2014

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The First Lady’s Travel Journal:  Pandas!

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Today is the last day of my trip, and I couldn’t leave China without seeing the Chengdu Panda Base.  Pandas are an endangered species — fewer than 1,600 pandas remain in the wild — and that’s why a place like the Chengdu Panda Base is so important.  Here at this base, scientists work to increase the panda population through breeding, conservation and researching how the bears live and grow.  The base covers almost 600 square miles, and it’s located right in the heart of pandas’ natural habitat.  The area surrounding the base is the only location in the world where you can find pandas in the wild and in a research center.  Right now, there are about 50 pandas at the Panda Base ranging in age from infancy to full-grown adults.

We started our visit by viewing a group of five giant pandas who were about 18 months old, and we got to feed them (we attached apples to the end of a long stick, and they reached up and grabbed them with their hands and mouths).  Next, we got to see some baby pandas that were about eight months old which are referred to as “yearlings,” a term used to describe pandas less than one year old.  They were so tiny — like stuffed animals – and later, I got the chance to hold one of these little guys!  Finally, we walked through an area filled with red pandas, a different, smaller species of pandas that look sort of like raccoons.

As we learned about these pandas and their future, I also spent some time reflecting on their past.  Believe it or not, pandas have actually played a leading role in world events over the past few decades through a custom known as “Panda Diplomacy.” It’s a tradition that dates back at least to the seventh century, and over the past few decades, panda diplomacy has been part of how China has reached out to other nations.  Since the 1950s, China has given pandas to countries like France, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, and the United States.  It’s a goodwill offering – a way to reach out and build a connection between two countries and their people.

That was certainly the case when China first offered America pandas back in 1972.  At that time, there was extremely limited contact between our two governments.  From 1949, when the communist party assumed power in China, up until 1979, the United States did not officially recognize the government of the People’s Republic of China.

But in the early 1970s, President Nixon believed that we could rise above our differences and begin to open relations, so in 1972, he reached out to the Chinese and became the first U.S. President to visit the People’s Republic of China.  On that trip, after Mrs. Pat Nixon mentioned how much she enjoyed seeing pandas at a Chinese zoo, the Chinese Premier offered a pair of pandas to the people of the United States.  The original pandas – Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing – were housed at the National Zoo, and Chinese pandas have lived there ever since.  In fact, just last fall, a new baby panda – Bao Bao, which means “treasure” or “precious” – was born there, giving new life to our growing relationship with China.

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First Lady Pat Nixon views the Pandas_February 1972 

Mrs. Nixon is wearing a red coat.

Beijing Zoo_Beijing, China, February 1972

I believe that this history is instructive for us today.  It shows that even for nations as big, complex and different as the United States and China, small gestures can mean a great deal.  They can bring people together and help them form bonds that can stretch across the globe – and in our modern world, where we can connect with someone on the other side of the world with the click of a button, we all have an opportunity to make those small gestures in our own lives.

1972 photo of  Mrs. Nixon via Camille

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“I learned that a long walk and calm conversation are an incredible combination if you want to build a bridge”. 

~ Seth Godin

Chinese artist Dong Honh-Oai create a series of amazing photographs that look like Chinese traditional paintings by using a style known as pictorialism, 

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First Lady Michelle Obama, Sasha, Malia and Mrs. Robinson are greeted by Tibetan students at the Zangxiang Village Tea House in Chengdu, China_March 26, 2014.
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The Obamas had lunch at the Zangxiang Teahouse, a Tibetan restaurant in Chengdu, before departing China.
Michelle, Sasha, Malia and Marian experience some of the 
rich culture of Tibet at the Zangxiang Village Tea House for a 
traditional Tibetan meal before heading home.
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The First Lady’s Travel Journal:  A Taste of  Tibetan Culture

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Chengdu is sometimes known as the “Gateway to Tibet” because it is located just a few hours from the towering mountains and rich culture of Tibet, which is a region of China.  There are roughly 6.5 million Tibetans in China, and they are one of the largest and most well-known minority groups in the country.

For centuries, Tibet was largely unknown to the outside world — but today, Tibetan Buddhism (the main religion in this area) and its spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama, are known across the globe for their teachings on compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.  Tibet is also known for its beautiful, majestic landscapes.  Some of the world’s tallest mountains are located there – if you want to scale Mount Everest, you can start from a base camp in Tibet.

To experience some of the rich culture of Tibet, we headed to the Zangxiang Village Tea House for a traditional Tibetan meal that included the following items: truk ja (yak butter tea), yak soup made with highland barley, sha pa le (yak pie made with minced onion and celery), boiled yak ribs, samba (a dense bread made with barley) and steamed vegetables with barley.

Before we ate, we had the chance to spin a traditional Tibetan prayer wheel, a device used by the Tibetan people to spread spiritual blessings.  Tibetans believe that spinning this wheel helps one accumulate wisdom and merit (known as good “karma”) and purify themselves of bad things (known as bad “karma”).

We were then greeted by a group of Tibetan students who placed beautiful silk scarves called “khataks”(which symbolize purity and compassion and are thought to bring good luck) around our necks -- this is considered a welcome gesture.  The students then displayed magnificent paintings they had made called “thangkas.”  Thangkas traditionally depict images of Buddhist deities, retell myths or describe historical events.

I am incredibly grateful that we had the chance to learn a little bit about Tibetan traditions.  The Tibetan people have struggled to preserve their unique religious and cultural traditions, and this visit was a powerful reminder of how important it is for each of us to treasure what makes us special, even when it makes us feel different from everyone else.  I know that’s not always easy, especially when you’re a minority in your school or community.  But in America, our diversity is what makes us who we are — it’s what makes our country so vibrant, strong and endlessly interesting.  So don’t be afraid to celebrate where you come from and whatever it is that makes you who you are — and don’t hesitate to share that with others.

This visit was such a wonderful way to end our journey here in China.  It has been a tremendous honor for me, my daughters and my mother to experience this fascinating country over this past week.  I’ve especially enjoyed speaking with young people in China, learning about their hopes and dreams, and sharing your stories with them and their stories with all of you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about your peers on the other side of the globe — and I hope you find ways to keep on learning about China and other countries around the world in the years ahead.

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Thanks for traveling along with us!

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A Chinese paramilitary policeman and plainclothes security personnel guard the tarmac.The first lady plans to focus on education and cultural exchange, and will also take her family to see China's historical and archaeological sites.
Chinese paramilitary policeman & plainclothes security personnel guard the tarmac
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告辭; 告別; 再見 
(Good Bye!)
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Camille Mitchell
Ambassador
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First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Soft Power” & 7 Facts about China you may not know

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軟的力量
(Soft Power)
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Soft Power, sometimes called hearts and minds diplomacy, as defined by Joseph Samuel Nye, Jr. Is the cultivation of relationships, respect, or even admiration from others in order to gain influence, as opposed to more coercive approaches”. 

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Mr. Nye is an American political scientist and former Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He currently holds the position of University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University and has authored 15 books.
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In addition to First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at Peking University and hosting an educational round table; the First Lady sported her ping pong skills and learned some Tai Chi.. The First Lady also visited the staff and families of the United States Embassy in Beijing and United States Consulate in Chengdu.
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The Fist Lady, her mother & daughters enjoying the Chinese folk dancers. 
They were given some gifts, including Rubik Cubes signifying wisdom, 
and some paper dragons and phoenixes. Xi’an, China_March 24, 2014
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Soft Power 

ne of the earliest realists in international relations theory was the 6th century BC military strategist Sun Tzu (d. 496 BC), author of The Art of War. He lived during a time in which rival states were starting to pay less attention to traditional respects of tutelage to the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC) figurehead monarchs while each vied for power and total conquest.

However, a great deal of diplomacy in establishing allies, bartering land, and signing peace treaties was necessary for each warring state, and the idealized role of the “persuader/diplomat” developed.

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In the 14th century, ancient Chinese paintings recorded  the
traditional living conditions of the Khmer people, who were 
strong in agriculture, fishing and hunting.  There were also 
records of local trade and regional exchange
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Did you Know?  7 facts about China
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1.  Peng Liyuan became first lady of China a year ago (March 2013) upon the election of her husband Xi Jinping as president of China. 

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Peng Liyuan is a renowned Chinese contemporary performing artist.   Peng is a civilian member of China’s People’s Liberation Army.  She holds the civilian rank equivalent to major general and is admired in China as First Lady as much as First Lady Michelle Obama is admired in the United States. (see Michelle’s video below on China’s First Lady)
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        First Lady Peng Liyuan
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2.  China has the second largest economy in the world after the United States.
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3.  By 2025, China will build TEN New York-sized cities

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4.  There are already more Christians in China than Italy, and it’s on track to become the largest center of Christianity in the world

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5. China is not technically a communist country.

Though China was communist from 1949–1976, after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong, the country embraced capitalism and became more socialist than anything. Because China’s political system is a one-party system, the Communist Party of China (the current ruling party) is mistaken by foreigners as the voice of the entire country.  But that’s like saying that America is a Democratic or Republican country depending on which party wins each election.

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6.  The Great Wall  (long wall) of China borders China with as many as 3 million workers about 70% of China’s population during the time of construction. (view Photo of the Day - Michelle Obama with her daughters at the Great Wall - April 5th NCM Blog post below)=============

7.   The Terra Cotta Warriors -  Each one stands about six feet tall and can weigh more than 600 pounds. (view the fascinating video below)

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The Terra Cotta Warriors number 8,000, more than 700 horses and 
150 chariots
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First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha arrive in Xi'an, China, on March 24 and visit the Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors. The famous archaeological site is where some 8,000 life-size sculptures of Chinese warriors were buried with China's first unifying emperor more than 2,200 years ago.
Michelle Obama, Sasha, Malia and Marian. Robinson tour the Terra
Cotta Warriors in Xi’an, China on March 24, 2014. 
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First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters visit the Great Wall of China – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

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「一一千英里的旅途從單步開始」
   |老撾人慈濟
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The First Lady and Daughters at the Great Wall
Michelle, Malia and Sasha visit the Great Wall of China, Beijing, March 23, 2014
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“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  
  ~ Lao Tzu
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This has got to be one of the best known “getting started” quotations ever.  However long and complicated any endeavor might be, it always needs to be initiated with something short and simple. It could also be interpreted to show that no journey ever gets completed that isn’t started. 
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有一個美妙的週末
(Have a Wonderful Weekend)
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Camille
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Camille Mitchell
Ambassador
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