It was hard to tell what Georgia-based diplomats were most impressed with during a whirlwind tour of Rome on Thursday. Members of the consular corps toured Chieftains Museum, had lunch at Darlington School, toured the Floyd County College and Career Academy and Suzuki Manufacturing before heading over to the Barnsley Resort prior to taking in a Rome Braves baseball game.
Chieftains Executive Director Heather Shores offered a glimpse into Cherokee history in Rome, which elicited numerous questions from the diplomats who represented 26 nations who were nearly spellbound by Shores’ presentation. Ard van der Vorst, the Consul General from the Netherlands, remarked that during a previous assignment he was Consul in Jerusalem and likened Cherokee removal to the plight of Palestinians living in what is now considered Israeli territory.
During their luncheon at Darlington, many of the diplomats were seated with boarding students who hailed from their home countries, giving the government officials an opportunity to learn about the education available to children from foreign countries that may invest in Rome.
Miguel Aleman Urteaga, the Consul General from Peru and considered the Dean of the consular corps, explained that information gathered on the trip is used to help explain the potential for investment in the region.
“The information can be useful for promoting economic cooperation, investment decisions, business decisions, so what we are looking at and learning will help us to inform our countries,” Urteaga said. Peru has a transportation sector the Consul General said could invest here along with agricultural and service-sector companies.
After lunch, the delegation visited the Floyd County College and Career Academy, visiting a robotics lab and class, a welding class and a teachers’ academy class.
While learning about the robotics and engineering program, students continued their work on a particular electronics project prompting Andrew Staunton, the Consul General from the U.K. to say, “It is quite impressive to observe their concentration.”
From the robotics and engineering class, the group moved over to the welding lab where once again, sparks were flying while instructor Carter Woodall was briefing the officials on the program. Raoul Donato, the Honorary Consul General for the Philippines, said his nation has similar technical and vocational schools.
“But not as intensive as what I’m seeing here,” Donato said. He was particularly impressed with the collaboration between the high schools and technical schools.
Eric Waters, the CEO of the College and Career Academy, stressed how the school has worked with local industry to tailor the curriculum to specific local needs.
“Education has to have a use at the end of the day,” Waters said. “They make it a match, we haven’t really done that yet.”
“That’s what I’m trying to observe here, so it’s really been educational for me,” Donato said.
Several members of the consular group engaged with students in the Teachers Academy. Avery Quarles, a student from Model, told them she had originally envisioned a career teaching special needs children. After getting some in-class experience through the college and career academy, she has decided to go more mainstream classroom teaching.
“This class was good for me because I learned what I didn’t want to do,” Quarles said.
“It was a pleasure and an honor to host this group of international dignitaries,” said Rome Floyd Chamber Interim Director Jeanne Krueger. “It’s also nice to see some familiar faces with whom we’ve already built relationships, such as Mr. (Takashi) Shinozuka (Japan) and Mr. (William)De Baets (Belgium), but it’s also nice to see new faces from countries with which I hope we can develop relationships with.”
Krueger said Rome and Floyd County currently host companies from 15 different nations, most of which came as a result of direct relationships that had been established between various Romans and leaders of the international companies.