A warm welcome for Norfolk’s special guests

April 23, 2017 GMT

Norfolkans will get a chance to gain more of a global perspective next week when special guests from the African nation of Malawi arrive for a visit.

Here’s a word of encouragement that we take advantage of this opportunity by playing gracious hosts and learning as much as possible from the visitors while here.

Among those scheduled to visit are the Malawian ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Edward Yakobe Sawerengera, as well as Mayor Wild Ndipo of the city of Blantyre, Malawi. That is the community where Joe Mtika of Norfolk operates the Norfolk Schools in Malawi, which served as the springboard for the visits next week.

So it’s safe to say that Norfolk’s guests aren’t your ordinary tourists, making this opportunity for a cultural exchange all the more important.

Mr. Mtika’s continued efforts to bring American-style education to his native country deserve much of the credit for making all this possible. But many others played important roles, too, including Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast Community College, Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning, state Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln, and representatives of the Norfolk Public Schools and the Norfolk-based Orphan Grain Train humanitarian organization.

While in Norfolk and Nebraska, the tentative schedule for the ambassador and the mayor includes a meeting with Gov. Pete Ricketts and Sen. Scheer in Lincoln. They will also visit Nebraska businesses, including Appeara, Nucor, and the Louis Dreyfus Company’s ethanol plant, as well as meeting with the local partners of the Norfolk Schools in Malawi.

They will also spend a day at Northeast Community College where several students from Norfolk Schools in Malawi have already applied for admission in the future. Northeast’s increased focus on attracting international students makes this even more of a positive situation all around.

“What we’re trying to build is some kind of articulation, not written per se, but that we would create an avenue for many Malawians to be able to come here eventually as part of our international work,” Dr. Chipps said.

Plus, the communities of Norfolk and Blantyre will officially be proclaimed as sister cities during the Malawians’ visit next week. And it will be opportunity for representatives of Christ Lutheran Church in Norfolk, who are planning mission trips to Blantyre, to meet, too.

We all, at times, think of Norfolk and Northeast as a little corner of the world. That’s true, but the guests from Malawi provide an opportunity to learn much more about another corner of the world.

So, welcome to the guests. We’re glad you’re visiting.