Dekker: Tinley Park has special interest in exchange programs
By Julie Dekker Citizen Journalistemail@example.com August 29, 2013 2:08PM
Russian university students with Odyssey Country Club general manager Clint Paraday (center) and Odyssey owner Peter Halikias (second from right) pose for photo. | Supplied photo
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:13AM
They say that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. It seems that we have a lot of integrity here in Tinley Park, according to a recent group of visitors to our town.
We get a lot of visitors to our village and not just from other suburbs. Tinley Park has very active cultural exchange programs. Whether through the village or the schools, more often than not there are visitors from foreign countries among us.
I recently attended a luncheon for a group of university students who are here from Russia in an exchange program. Ranging in age from 18 to 22, they arrived in late May and will be heading back to their homeland in September.
The emphasis of this program is cultural enrichment, but it also has a work component. So in addition to experiencing social life in America, the students had a chance to work a summer job in Tinley Park, which had several benefits.
Not only were they able to earn some money to help them with expenses, but being employed gave them a real taste of daily life in America and how working here compared with holding a job in their countries.
Many of the students have been working at Odyssey Fun World and Odyssey Country Club over the summer.
I spoke with Clint Paraday, the general manager of the country club who has been involved with the cultural exchange program for three years and has given jobs to many of the students.
Paraday said he has enjoyed hosting our Russian visitors this year and giving them an employment opportunity. He believes in the goal of the program — people to people exchanging goodwill.
“I will be glad to do it again next year,” Paraday said.
Mayor Ed Zabrocki and village Clerk Patrick Rea spoke to the luncheon guests about the welcoming nature of the citizens of Tinley Park, remarking that not only the host families but businesses and residents showed generosity toward the Russian visitors in trying to give them the best experience possible during their stay in the Southland.
Tinley Park was founded by German, English and Irish immigrants, and that rich cultural history is what makes the village the interesting and diverse place that it is today.
It was nice to hear the Russian guests speak so highly of the treatment that they have experienced during their stay. They will go back to their home with a true impression of life in America, not just a description in a book or a story on the news.
Tinley Park also hosts visitors through regular cultural exchanges with our sister cities of Mallow, Ireland and Budingen, Germany. These relationships help bring about a better understanding of not only the differences between cultures but their similarities as well.
We may live a world away from each other, but at the most basic level we have so much in common. To learn more about the village’s Sister Cities Program, visit the village website at www.tinleypark.org.