Warm Welcome from Sunshine State

Among 24 fellows who have joined YSEALI Professional Fellow Program this spring, I and Jerico Roy from Philippines have been hosted by a same city government – City of Tallahassee, Florida, as we share the same community challenge on disaster management. It has been a week since the first day we arrived in Florida. Tallahassee welcomed us by the great weather with sunshine, blue sky, cool breeze and especially, the warm welcome from the city management team and different departments which spare their busy working schedule to meet us and share with us about their work and experiences on disaster management. We are truly lucky to be placed in this lovely city of Tallahassee.

Beauty of Tallahassee

In our first day in City Hall of Tallahassee, we were welcomed by meeting and having breakfast with the Commissioner, City Manager, Assistant City Managers and Heads of Departments. After that we got introduced to different departments in the City Hall, settled in our own office space and had lunch with Mr. Raoul Ravin – Assistant City Manager of Tallahassee. Raoul gave us the thorough introduction about the political system, city management system, the role of each department and help us understand strong efforts of the whole system in providing better services to the citizens of Tallahassee.

As our main focus is on learning about disaster management, we have been working close with Mrs. Abena Ojetayo – Director of Sustainability and Community Preservation. We have been joining with her in different meetings with her staffs and community members. We had opportunities to see the close cooperation between city government and community in improving the city resilience.

In the following days of the first week, our schedule is packed with the meetings with different offices, participating in the monthly meeting of Sustainable Tallahassee, attending the class at Florida State University and visiting Kearney Center, which is the accommodation facility for homeless people in Tallahassee and their Tiny Home project helping the homeless to settle down and attain a stable life.

The first hectic week passed by with many activities and information which help us to develop the ideas of how to go deeper with the topic we are working on. I am looking forward to the following weeks to come as we will have more activities and interactions, which I believe that they will give us a clearer picture of how to solve the problems we are dealing with in our home country.

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