Last week, state Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), Ohio Senate District 19, hosted a tour of Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base for delegates from Nepal, India, and Pakistan. The delegates are participants in the International Legislative Fellowship Program for South and Central Asia, sponsored by The U.S. State Department.
“They are here looking at our different form of government,” Brenner said.
However, he found it interesting that the delegates from the “military-style of governments” had a hard time understanding why a government would have a part-time staffed military like the Ohio Air National Guard.
“They are learning a lot to take back with them,” Brenner said.
According to Allison Lawlor, senior legislative aide to Brenner, 100 individual delegates from the program start in Washington, D.C. where they are then divided up between several cities here in the U.S.
“We usually get two from each country,” she said. “In Columbus, they get a more political look at the government structure.”
According to literature provided by Lawlor, the program, hosted by the International Visitors Council of Columbus, gives delegates a chance to explore a month-long internship in the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, city councils, and local governments.
Lawlor said activities are designed to help delegates understand the U.S. legislative process. However, she said not all activities are confined to wandering around the Ohio Statehouse.
“We take them out to get a feel for what’s going on (in Ohio),” she said. “Kind of let them get involved in cultural activities.”
Lawlor said one of the delegates said they heard Ohio had the largest roller coaster in the world.
“They were talking about Ceder Point,” she said.
Lawlor said Brenner’s office usually brings the delegates to Delaware County, where they spend the day talking to officials about local government in Ohio.
“Commissioner Barb Lewis has been great about setting that up for us,” she said.
The International Legislative Fellowship Program also reciprocates as Lawlor said she had the chance to spend two weeks learning and observing India’s government.
“Sen. Brenner has indulged my interest in the program,” she said. “I got to see the real India, not what the tourist sees.”
The delegates who visited the base last week included Nikhil Dubey from Madhya Pradesh, India, who is an assistant director at the Madhya Pradesh Agency for Promotion of Information Technology; Nabhojit Dey from Bhubaneswar Odisha, India, who is a program coordinator at Water Aid International; Lkhapa Lama from Kathmandu, Nepal, is a grants and partnership coordinator at Winrock International; Nirdesh Silwal from Gandaki, Nepal, is a lecturer of political science at the National Law College in Sanepa Province, India; and Mir Waqar Ahmed from Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, who is secretary of the government of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.