Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
A delegation of 17 Trinidadian officials could use the initiatives between Atlanta and Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, as models for developing the Caribbean city’s other international relationships during an economic development conference in Atlanta Oct. 19-20.
The upcoming Economic Development Global Partnership conference is bringing together representatives from 13 of Atlanta’s 18 Sister Cities who want to share their best practices in urban growth and management.
An Atlanta Sister City since 1987, Port of Spain has developed educational and municipal partnerships with Atlanta that have city officials eager to build more international contacts, Norma Kendall-Hamlet, chair of the Atlanta-Port of Spain Sister City Committee, told GlobalAtlanta in a telephone interview.
“They want to have a better understanding of how Atlanta’s Sister Cities operate. They want to learn from them and develop more interaction with the other Sister Cities,” she said.
In 1998, Atlanta and Port of Spain started a Fire Service Exchange program in which officials from the two cities exchanged training materials and fire fighting information.
Atlanta fire fighters traveled to Port of Spain to conduct training sessions and donate fire-fighting technology, and Port of Spain officials came to Atlanta to learn more about the city’s fire department and fire fighting techniques.
Port of Spain also has worked closely with Atlanta officials to develop a program to welcome international tourists visiting Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2003, Port of Spain launched a city ambassadors initiative modeled after Atlanta’s Ambassador Force Program, which stations a team of city representatives in downtown Atlanta to help direct visitors to nearby tourist attractions.
The Atlanta program started in preparation for the 1996 Olympic Games, but Port of Spain has successfully implemented the program to welcome tourists for annual Carnival celebrations, according to Ms. Kendall-Hamlet.
Carnival, which is celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, is the nation’s biggest celebration, including elaborate costumes, dance and traditional music.
The event has become an attraction for Atlanta tourists, and the Atlanta-Port of Spain Sister City Committee has sent groups to the celebration for several years in a row, according to Ms. Kendall-Hamlet. Four people from the committee attended the most recent carnival in February, she said.
Port of Spain’s educational exchanges with Atlanta high school students could also be duplicated with other cities, said Ms. Kendall-Hamlet.
Students at North Atlanta High School visited Trinidad and Tobago for two weeks in 2001 where they attended local schools and stayed with host families. They then welcomed students from Port of Spain to do a similar exchange in Atlanta.
A city of approximately 300,000 metro residents, Port of Spain is the capital of English-speaking Trinidad and Tobago and is located on the northwest coast of the island of Trinidad.
Twenty-three islands make up the Caribbean nation, which is located near the coast of Venezuela. The largest islands are Trinidad and Tobago.
Ms. Kendall-Hamlet, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, will be welcoming the Trinidadian delegation for the upcoming economic development conference that is being organized by the city of Atlanta, the Sister Cities Commission and CIFAL Atlanta, a local United Nations affiliate.
For more information on the conference, read “Atlanta Hosting Meeting Including 13 International Sister Cities,” published by GlobalAtlanta Sept. 15, 2006.
For more information on the Atlanta-Port of Spain Sister City relationship, contact Ms. Kendall-Hamlet at email@example.com.