FFWNC welcomed twelve Open World delegates from the countries of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan!
Our recent Open World delegation was a whirlwind of activity during heavy spring rains in April. The theme of Economic Development provided a framework for visits with community leaders in Asheville and Hendersonville.
The organizations and businesses we visited had meaningful interactions with the delegates. There was a “back and forth” conversation between delegates and presenters re: legal and political considerations in their respective countries as related to economic development. “Seeds were planted” in terms of future communication and interaction. For example, one of the delegates made a connection with an artist here; he spoke of a possible collaboration in the future.
The Small Business Centers at A-B Tech Community College and Blue Ridge Community College were highlights of the visit. The respective directors made presentations regarding their services to entrepreneurs and extended themselves to the delegates regarding future communication and assistance. While at Blue Ridge Community College we also had the pleasure of a welcome by the college president. While at A-B Tech we toured the Small Business Incubator and had opportunities to talk with several entrepreneurs about their start-ups.
The Economic Development Team at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce provided a great overview of initiatives in our region. The River Arts District in Asheville was a hit with the delegates, as we had a stimulating and informative presentation by one of the artist-founders of this area of Asheville, Wendy Whitson.
Another highlight involved a collaborative visit between the Open World delegates and an Asheville Sister Cities Nigerian delegation. This activity was a weekend hike and visit to the Cradle of Forestry. One weekend activity was a taste of bluegrass music at Fletcher’s Feed and Seed; a good time was had by all!
–Kay Manley, Open World Coordinator for Friendship Force of Western North Carolina