Citizens from five islands in the Caribbean visited Columbia County last week and experienced life far from home.
Six members with the Rotary District 7030 group study exchange team traveled to Georgia for nearly a month to gain cultural and professional knowledge. The program is aimed at young businesspeople in the early stages of their careers.
"It's like a vocational and educational experience," said Lucinda Clark, the assistant governor for Rotary District 6910.
"The program provides travel grants for teams to exchange visits in paired areas of different countries," according to the Rotary International and Foundation Web site. "For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas."
The group, sponsored by Georgia's Rotary District 6910, arrived in the state April 12. They visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and traveled to Columbia County May 29, where they toured the library and justice center.
"It's been fun so far," said Renner Yearwood, a team member and mechanical engineer in Barbados. In addition to Yearwood, Nigel Aqui and Amit Mirhai from Trinidad, Vanessa Weck from Guadeloupe, Curllin Alexis from Grenada and Gloria Yzer Wong Fa San from Suriname rounded out the group.
They met at the Brandon Wilde retirement community Wednesday and were curious about the county's government, entertainment and industries.
Richard Swann, sales counselor at Brandon Wilde, led the team members on a tour of the facility.
"It gives me great pride to represent this," said Swann, who also is the president of The Rotary Club of Columbia County West. "It's not my building. It belongs to all the residents that live here. This is their house."
Clark said the visit fit the group members' needs to their professions.
"It's actually a peace initiative," said team leader Aqui, a civil engineer and project manager in Trinidad. "That is what it really comes back to."
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