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South Dakota and Suriname: Growth through partnership

The Public Affairs subject matter exchange team visited Flu elementary school in Suriname.
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

The Public Affairs subject matter exchange team visited Flu elementary school in Suriname. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

Staff Sgt. Kristi Niedert, 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, visits with  media representatives in Suriname.
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

Staff Sgt. Kristi Niedert, 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, visits with media representatives in Suriname. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

A screen projects the faces of Mt. Rushmore as firewords are displayed in the background during the 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Suriname.
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

A screen projects the faces of Mt. Rushmore as firewords are displayed in the background during the 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Suriname. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

Fireworks over the Suriname River. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

Fireworks over the Suriname River. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- This summer I was fortunate to be included in a small group of media professionals who traveled to Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, for a Public Affairs subject matter exchange, as part of the South Dakota-Suriname State Partnership Program. During our stay we met with a number of professionals from local newspapers and tv and radio stations, sharing different ideas and learning about each other's similarities. There have been several such exchanges since the program started in 2006, such as the visit last February of Suriname officials to South Dakota focusing on leadership exchange. 

We were fortunate to be in Suriname for the country's Emancipation Day on July 3rd. We were also honored to attend the 4 of July celebration hosted at the home of US Embassy Ambassador Lisa Bobbie Schreiber Hughes. The timing of our stay in Suriname was perfect, as the theme of the celebration was "Fireworks over Mt. Rushmore." The Embassy staff worked hard and did an amazing job of throwing a party that included burgers and hotdogs, as well as a fantastic fireworks display over the Suriname River and a projection screen display of the faces of Mt. Rushmore. 

Ours was a short one week trip, but it was an incredible experience. The lengthy travel time - the flight from South Dakota to Suriname takes one whole day - was more than made up for by the amazing atmosphere and friendly people we were met with during our stay.