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Looking outside, finding value within

Master Sgt. Chris Stewart and Staff Sgt. Kristi Niedert, 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, pose with Maj. Brendan Murphy, S.D. State Public Affairs Officer and other members of the S.D. press  in front of Radio 10 in Paramaribo, Suriname July 1.

Master Sgt. Chris Stewart and Staff Sgt. Kristi Niedert, 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, pose with Maj. Brendan Murphy, S.D. State Public Affairs Officer and other members of the S.D. press in front of Radio 10 in Paramaribo, Suriname July 1.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Recently I had the opportunity to travel with four other members of the local media to Suriname, a beautiful country on the northeastern tip of South America. As I prepared for the trip I had little idea what to expect. 

As the trip came closer, I pieced together we would be talking with Suriname news media and sharing ideas and thoughts. This was a little outside my comfort zone, but I still felt it would be a great opportunity to meet my counterparts from our partner country and share techniques. I thought it would be a wonderful time to make connections that span the globe. What I did not realize is that this trip would be much more. 

I did find some amazing resources and connections 4,000 miles away from home, but in an unexpected place. As I stepped outside my comfort zone hoping to find great connections I found some in my own back yard. After meeting many nights to talk about the day's events and share new ideas with my fellow travelers, I realized that I have great connections right here in South Dakota. Within our group we had the president of the broadcaster's association, a local television anchor, the South Dakota state public affairs officer, and the officer in charge of the South Dakota-Suriname partnership program. As I visited with these highly educated individuals and shared ideas about Suriname and South Dakota issues I realized I was missing out on great connections within my own state. 

Essentially I traveled 4,000 miles to find connections that live within 15 miles of my own house. Why had I never before talked to these people? Here was a group of professionals that I could really learn from, and they were right under my nose. I decided to make it a goal of mine to get to know the local media, to use my new connections to help me tap into the resources at home as well as abroad.