New Amsterdam partners with Huntsville to improve international relations

A delegation from New Amsterdam, Guyana spoke about the benefits of international city partnerships during a press conference Tuesday at the Dan Rather Communications Building. The delegation is part of a program that enables an open exchange of technical assistance and professional relationships between communities.”It was implemented to establish international relations, and it lets us look outside of ourselves,” Huntsville City Manager Bob Hart said. Hart has visited New Amsterdam in the past and has been working to make the delegates feel welcome during their stay in Huntsville.New Amsterdam and Huntsville are participants in a program implemented by the International City/County Management Association, which works with local governments to create relationships with other cities on an international level.”ICMA is a professional association, we are not a governmental organization, of city managers and other local government leaders,” Corinne Rothblum, ICMA senior program manager, said. “The mission of ICMA is to enhance the professionalism and democratic base of political government, so we do a lot of publishing on government management issues. I’m sure if you have taken any public information courses, you have used an ICMA textbook.”Rothblum stresses that “this is not a sister city program; those tend to be more social and cultural. ICMA is really focused on municipal issues such as making improvements in trash collection. It’s not glamorous stuff, it’s the nitty-gritty.”By participating in this partnership with Huntsville, the delegation hopes to return to New Amsterdam having learned how to improve its city.”We have a major problemin garbage collection. Many people dump on the road, and we need to have the drainage system redone,” said Krishondat Persaud, a member of the delegation and vice president of the New Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce.”We need to compare our system with your system to see how we can improve ours,” Deputy Mayor of New Amsterdam Claude Henry said. “We have learned so much.”The delegation is also addressing social issues, such as child abuse. Rita Hussain, representative for a non-governmental organization of Guyanan women, said her goal is “to see how we can implement some of your strategy to help ours in dealing with such issues as child abuse.””Social issues are an important part of the partnership,” Rothblum said. “There are commonalities in terms of some of the priorities that they have in developing leadership and getting a lot more engagement from the community and especially addressing youth and family issues.”Another aspect of both New Amsterdam and Huntsville that city officials are working hard to improve is tourism in a wartime economy.”Guyana is looking at improving tourism,” Persaud said. “Because of war-market prices, it is a depressed situation right now.”The problems cities face in the United States are similar to problems in many cities around the world, problems the ICMA hopes to solve by implementing these partnerships.”It is city managers talking to city managers,” Rothblum said. “They talk the same language.”The relationship between Huntsville and New Amsterdam has the potential to form a partnership between SHSU and the University of Guyana.”There is no partnership, but I know that that is a by-product of a lot of these partnerships,” Rothblum said. “For example, Auburn University in Alabama partners with a university in Bulgaria. Students and faculty took the initiative to raise funds. I would encourage SHSU to explore this. The University of Guyana is a new university, and I’m sure that they would welcome all of the support that they could get to strengthen it.”

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