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  • Writer's pictureHolly Harris

Climate and Energy Innovation for the Caribbean: A Project for the Western Hemisphere

Meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Coralville Lake Project.

From September 2nd to September 8th, we hosted a delegation in Eastern Iowa from various regions in the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. They were here for a project titled “Climate and Energy Innovation for the Caribbean.”

Their first full day in Iowa was spent at Kalona Historical Society. There, they toured the Amish Dairy Goat Farm and learned about the basic beliefs of the Mennonite faith, as well as the changes it has undergone since its origin in 16th century Europe. Afterward, they enjoyed a homemade lunch cooked by a Mennonite family.

“Kalona was interesting, and they had the best fresh food,” said participant Wilfred Boetius.

Enjoying an Iowa Table Dinner hosted by Dimy Doresca.

After their return, they had the rest of the day free. This delegation was able to see the city full of Hawkeye football fans, as their first full day was the first game of the Iowa Hawkeyes football season. It was busy downtown and game-day excitement was in the air!

Sunday was a free day for them to explore the city and the University of Iowa campus. Later that day, they enjoyed their Iowa Table Dinners with local volunteers. The next day, the visitors had the opportunity to

Playing the game Hedbanz at Ashley Laux's Iowa Table Dinner.

attend a local Labor Day Picnic hosted by the Iowa City Federation of Labor.

On Tuesday, September 6th, the delegation had their first full day of professional meetings. They left early that morning and headed to Cedar Rapids to meet with Rob Davis and discuss the Cedar Rapids Flood Control System. The visitors had the opportunity to tour current construction, delve deeper into the logistics of the plan, and learn how similar projects can be implemented in their own communities.

After their meeting and tour with Rob, they headed back to Iowa City for their next meeting with Dimy Doresca and Sara Maples at the Tippie College of Business. Tippie became the first public college in Iowa to adopt the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a global movement transforming business education through research and leadership. The visitors learned about entrepreneurship, climate change, and sustainable development. Next, they headed to the Iowa City Public Library to meet with Travis Kraus, Lucie Laurian, Jerry Anthony, Samantha Zuhlke, Paul Hanley, and Richard Fosse of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities. They spoke about their past projects and how similar projects might be replicated in their communities.

Walking up the steps of the Tippie College of Business.

“We really enjoyed the conversation and look forward to keeping in touch with many of these impressive people,” said Travis Kraus, director of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities.

The next day, the delegation met with Johnathan Wuebker, Assistant Operations Project Manager of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Coralville Lake Project. He discussed how public policy affects project funding and the current projects like the Coralville Lake water regulation plan, how they monitor outflow levels on the Iowa river, how they minimize flooding, and their emergency assistance in the cases of natural disaster. Afterward, they finished their day meeting with Jerald Schnoor of the IIHR Hydroscience and Engineer Lab and Gregory Carmichael of the Center for Global and Regional Research. Jerald talked about the various sustainability related research projects at the University for Iowa and the advancements made in the field. Gregory shared current research and described how their findings affect policy at the local, state, and national levels. After this meeting, they were free for the rest of their day and last day in Iowa.

When asked about their overall experience in Iowa, Kimisha Thomas said, “I’ve never visited Iowa before or even thought about doing so. It’s a beautiful place. It was interesting to realize that you have similar vulnerabilities (like flooding), and [learn about the] solutions you put in place.”

The delegation left the following morning to continue their program in Orlando, Florida!

Meeting at the Tippie College of Business.

Thank you to the City of Cedar Rapids, Tippie College of Business, Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, IIHR Hydroscience and Engineer Lab, and the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research for your participation as professional resources for this program!

Baab Gillian commented, “[The] appointments were a good fit for our reality in the Caribbean from which I could use the lessons [learned] and implement them back home.”

Thank you also to our volunteers, Jeanne Stoakes, Melanie Haupert, Ebenezer Adeyemi, Steve Merkel-Hess, Dimy and Pascale Doresca, Ashley and Matt Laux, and Horacio Borgen for volunteering to greet, guide, and host this group throughout their stay in Eastern Iowa. You truly made their time here special!

“The volunteers played an important part in the success of our visit. They played a role of facilitation and guided us. It was much appreciated,” said Hubert Paul Normil.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Global Ties Iowa, sign up to be on our mailing list and stay tuned for the next opportunities to connect the world and the heartland!


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