Recently, Shelburne’s Town Offices were the setting for an international visit. A group of visitors from Afghanistan met with Town Manager Joe Colangelo on May 15 as part of a professional exchange program.
This was not the first time that such a group had come to visit. The program, which is offered by the U.S. State Department and known as the International Visitor Leadership Program, saw a group from Venezuela making a stop in Shelburne last year. That group had visited as part of a project called “Addressing the Needs of Underserved and At-Risk Youth,” and the stop in Shelburne allowed for them to learn more about student membership on Committees, Boards and Commissions.
The group visiting this year was comprised of five men who are involved in local government at home in Afghanistan. Firozuddin Aimaq, Muhammad Karim Attal, Said Mohammad Azim Kabarzani, Mohammad Noor Rahmani, and Amruden Wali spent an hour visiting with Colangelo and learning more about the Selectboard form of government.
“[We] spoke for an invigorating full hour. It was an exciting exchange of dialog,” Colangelo said.
The group’s visit as part of the exchange program was like others that have come before them. Each person who participates in IVLP had been nominated and selected by staff at the U.S. Embassy in their country. The goal of the program, which was launched in 1940, is to strengthen ties between the United States and other countries and to cultivate lasting relationships.
The stop in Shelburne was one of several the group made during their time in the United States. Before this, they had visited Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., met with legislators in Burlington, and met the Director of Vermont League of Cities and Towns. After their stop in Shelburne, they had stops in Florida and Arizona planned.
Colangelo said that it was a real honor and privilege to meet with the group and form a relationship. There are plans to remain in touch.
“It’s nice for Shelburne and the community to be part of the international community-building and to be ambassadors for our country,” Colangelo said.