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Visitors traveling from Iraq via the International Visitor Leadership Program met with port and chamber representatives while they were in town. Standing, from left, are: Michael McElwee, Kate Schroeder, Ibtisam Jasim Mohammed Al Zubaidi, Muhnnad Rehman Yusser Yusser, and Swansan Jabbar Ibraheem Ibraheem. Sitting, from left, are: Mustafa Mahmood Mahdi Al Najjar, Anmar Abd Al Deen Lateef Al Taher, Hussein Ismael Ahmed Al Shammari, and Rushdi Abdulkhaliq Tuma Al Jazaeri.

Hood River hosted a group from Iraq on Wednesday as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

The program seeks to connect international visitors with professional counterpoints in both the public and private sectors related to a specified “project theme,” according to the Department of State.

The group, consisting of seven civil engineers and planners, along with several language interpreters, met with Port Director Michael McElwee and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate Schroeder to discuss urban planning and design, city development, methods of cooperation between public and private sectors, and sustainable revitalization efforts.

“It was a very engaged group,” said McElwee, adding that their discussion focused primarily on the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge, and the port’s efforts to maintain and replace it. “It doesn’t matter who it is or where they’re from, the bridge seems to be the thing that raises the most questions and interest,” he said.

The IVLP group also stopped at the FISH Food Bank Wednesday afternoon, before moving on to their next stop: Austin, Texas.

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