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Guest Blog: International Fellows Recently Visiting Tulsa

By Jillian Childress | December 9, 2015

This past fall the City of Tulsa hosted four international fellows who participated in a governance and environmental sustainability program facilitated by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program brought together individuals from more than 30 countries and territories worldwide to focus on four themes: (1) Civic Engagement, (2) Economic Empowerment, (3) Education and (4) Environmental Sustainability

The fellows who visited Tulsa were from Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar (also known as Burma). Each fellow had a unique community challenge project to resolve and used their time and experience in Tulsa to help with those projects.

The goals of each respective project were:

  • To educate the people and residents to appreciate the environment and practice proper waste management for Brunei,
  • To find strategies for greenhouse gas control in the relationship with climate change adaptation and mitigation in Vietnam,
  • To find options for a solution to the issue of land and forest fires in Riau Province of Indonesia, and
  • To find options for managing the disposal of waste, especially medical waste without affecting the environment in Myanmar.

The fellows were in Tulsa for four weeks and during that time met with the following City teams: Finance, Communications, Municipal Courts, the Tulsa Fire Department and EMSA, Finance-Grants, the MAAP Office, Streets and Stormwater, and Water and Sewer/Sewer Operation and Maintenance. They also met with a number of community organizations to provide them with ideas for solving their community challenge projects. A few of those organizations included the Tulsa Recycle & Transfer Material Recovery Facility, Covanta, the American Red Cross, and Up With Trees.

As the City liaison, it was important for me to provide the fellows with the opportunity to dig deep into their community challenge project and create realistic solutions to present back in their home country. During this process, the fellows realized it would be beneficial to develop more than one solution as well as create multiple layers or phases within each solution so that their managers and/or policy makers could more easily receive the information.

From a personal perspective, hosting the fellows was an amazing learning experience. I gained a deeper understanding of various types of government structures and learned more about their different cultures and customs.