Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara recently participated in a significant visit to Guyana alongside a delegation from Schenectady, including Schenectady County Legislator Philip Fields and Schenectady City Council Member John Mootooveren. This visit aimed to strengthen the cultural bonds between Schenectady's community and the rich heritage of Guyana.
Exploration of Berbice: Embracing Culinary Traditions
Assemblyman Santabarbara received a warm welcome in Berbice, where he immersed himself in the local Guyanese culture. From authentic Guyanese cuisine, a variety of local dishes and fresh picked tropical fruits like pomegranates, rambutan, and guava, engaging with the community, he experienced daily life, explored the local landscape, and absorbed the diverse flavors of the region.
Engaging Politics and Symbolic Gestures
The journey involved engaging political discussions, including meetings with prominent figures such as Prime Minister Brigadier Retired Mark Phillips and President Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali. Assemblyman Santabarbara, along with Schenectady County Legislator Philip Fields and Schenectady City Council Member John Mootooveren, presented a special friendship pin displaying the flags of the United States of America and New York State to Prime Minister Brigadier Retired Mark Phillips.
A private meeting with President Ali, accompanied by a presidential luncheon, further solidified relations. Additionally, a visit to the United States Embassy, meeting with Ambassador Nicole Theriot, provided insights into diplomatic relations.
Presidential Gift: Fostering Diplomacy
During the meeting with President Ali, Assemblyman Santabarbara presented commemorative drinking glasses from Schenectady's Proctors Theatre. These glasses now adorn the President's desk, symbolizing the enduring diplomatic and cultural ties between Guyana and Schenectady.
Exploration of Nature and Urban Life
The journey included visits to various sites, such as a new hotel and water park development, a local mall, and an evening at Palm Court, immersing in the city's vibrant atmosphere. Discussions with Dave Narine, owner of Dave West Indian Imports Corp, shed light on the export of authentic Guyanese food products to the United States, strengthening cultural ties. Dave West Indian Imports Corp supplies these food products to many Guyanese grocery stores and shops in the City of Schenectady.
Immersive Experience at Kaieteur Falls and Bartica
The journey continued at Kaieteur Falls, the world's tallest single-drop waterfall. Exploring the Demerara River on a speedboat provided transportation to Arrow Point Nature Resort in Bartica, a serene escape, while a stroll along Georgetown's Sea Wall showcased the city's lively nightlife.
Trade Forum and Cultural Exchange
The final day featured the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2023, emphasizing Guyana's interest in economic collaboration. Engagements with Exxon Mobil highlighted Guyana's emerging oil industry, while a visit to Starbroek Market showcased the country's economic and cultural diversity.
Assemblyman Santabarbara expressed how this transformative journey deepened his understanding of Guyana and its people. Representing a significant Guyanese population in the 111th Assembly District of New York State, the trip reinforced his bond with the Schenectady community. The warmth of the Guyanese people, the richness of their traditions, and the country's natural beauty have left an indelible memory that will continue to inspire him.
“This journey was more than a mere exploration; it was a transformative experience that enriched my understanding of Guyana and its people,” stated Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “The bond formed with the inviting individuals in Guyana highlights the diversity and liveliness of our city and the Schenectady community. The genuine warmth of the Guyanese people, the richness of their heritage, and the breathtaking beauty of the country have imprinted a lasting influence that will continue to inspire me for years ahead.”