If you ever want someone to plan an itinerary for a trip to a foreign country, whatever you do, don’t get the Guilford County Budget Department to do it for you – they’re obviously not good at picking out the most fun sites.

At the Guilford County Board of Commissioners’ Thursday, Oct. 6 meeting, Guilford County Manager Mike Halford introduced two impressive women who came from the other side of the world, and he explained about the employee exchange program that allows them to learn how Guilford County does things – and also allows them to teach county employees how things are done in their countries.

The two are in Guilford County for about a month.

Guilford County Budget Director Toy Beeninga spoke about their visit.

“I just want to share a little bit about what they’ve been doing the last couple of weeks,” he said at the meeting. “So, they have visited Greensboro’s water and sewer plant… They went down to Raleigh to visit the insect clinic to meet with professors and to learn about agricultural worker help… They did a ride along with Emergency Services … and I believe they will be attending an upcoming chicken show with our Cooperative Extension partners.”

Even Beeninga, who’s the best public speaker among Guilford County directors, couldn’t make the women’s itinerary sound like a lot of fun. One hopes that county staff will at some point also take them out to Natty Greene’s for a beer, or, say, a show at the Tanger Center.

However, to be fair, they aren’t here on vacation – they’re here to learn and to teach.

Dr. Vivien How (above right), from Malaysia, and Daliya Nop, from Cambodia, are the county’s “Fall 2022 Sustainable Development and the Environment Fellows.”

Halford said the exchange program is very beneficial.

“We wonder how our fellow residents do things on the other side of the earth,” Halford told the county commissioners, adding that this was a “fantastic opportunity” for the women and county staff to learn from each other.

This is the third time Guilford County has had exchange fellows from foreign countries and Halford said the county plans to send two employees to Asia in return.

One interesting thing that county staff no doubt enjoyed was a cooking class on Malaysian and Cambodian foods that the two women taught.

Dr. How is a senior lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health of the University in Putra, Malaysia. She’s also a registered Chemical Health Risk Assessor with the Malaysian Department of Occupational Safety and Health.

According to a description provided by county officials, she “works on issues that focus on health services in rural areas, how rural communities can identify and build on their unique assets, and how collaboration between various sectors can address these challenges, specifically related to environmental health and rural/public health.”

Nop is a civilian entomological technician with a US Naval Medical Research Unit laboratory known as “NAMRU-2” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She received her degree in Education of Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the Institute of Foreign Languages in 2020 and Medical Laboratory degree from the University of Puthisastra.

County officials note that she has continued her training in entomology and molecular studies through the Institute Pasteur Cambodia and also that she’s “spent years conducting projects for NAMRU-2, working closely with regional health partners such as the Cambodian National Center of Entomology, Parasitology and Malaria Control, and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, conducting research on topics including vector bionomics of mosquitoes, ectoparasites, pathogen detection, monitoring insecticide resistance, and ways to improve integrated vector control programs.”

When they get home and tell people all the things they saw on their trip to Guilford County, they will no doubt have a much better understanding of how American counties operate – however, don’t expect it to do much to promote tourism to Guilford County from their respective countries.