A group of 10 delegates from Nowy Sacz, , Poland, are touring the hospitals, schools and public safety facilities in Columbia County. They are part of the Sister City program that is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Ten visitors from Columbia County's sister city of Nowy Sacz City, Poland toured the new detention center in Appling during a week-long stay in the area.
06/26/02 Jim Blaylock NEWS-TIMES
Photo by Jim Blaylock
County commissioner Jim Whitehead and wife, Peggy, picked the group up at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport and have two of the delegates staying at their house.
"They are just great people," Whitehead said. "They went through the Holocaust and then they went though 40 years of communism and you'd think they'd be the hardest, most distrusting people in the world. But they are the most loving people I have ever seen."
The partnership is helping to improve Nowy Sacz's economy and create a better understanding of both cultures.
Jerzy Wituszynski said he enjoyed seeing the safety facilities in Columbia County.
"It is interesting to see how these facilities serve to make people feel safe," Wituszynski said.
The group spent Wednesday morning touring the new county detention center. Gosia Karaszewska, 21, served as interpreter.
"I have seen so many differences between here and home," Karaszewska said. "I thought we would see lots of crowded places, but its quiet ... and everyone drives everywhere."
The group has visited Augusta State University and several area hospitals.
"We have a lot in common. Both have about the same population," Whitehead said. "We've seen a lot of economic growth in Nowy Sacz city."
Columbia County helped establish a scholarship fund to help students attend the university located in the Polish town.
"They have the finest business school in Poland in Nowy Sacz city, but none of the people in Nowy Sacz city can afford to go there. So we have set up a scholarship through our advisory board to support a student every year in the business school," Whitehead said.
On Wednesday, a banquet honoring the 10-year partnership of the two groups was held at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. On display at the dinner was a leather-bound book that people from Poland had signed after the Sept. 11 tragedy.
"People came to the town hall and lined up to write messages to us in the United States," Whitehead said. "Many of the things that they wrote were in Polish, but some were in English and it would just tear you apart to read what they had to say about the terrorist bombing on Sept 11. It was like their family in Columbia County got bombed."
The members from both communities have worked together to sign an agreement for a continuance of the partnership program for at least ten more years.
"We're very pleased with what's gone so far," Whitehead said. "And we look forward to continuing the program."
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