I’ve worked at RDU for more than 25 years now, and like many employees, I still look up when a plane soars overhead. Some days that is all it takes to remind me of why I love working at the airport. But the days when we connect with the community are the best reminders of what it means to be in the airport business.
Sunday, February 24 was such a day. A delegation of students from Toyama, Japan arrived to meet their host families. The students, mostly teenagers, arrived to begin a three-week journey in Durham to study English at Durham Technical Community College’s Center for the Global Learner. The exchange effort is a result of work by the Toyama City Committee of the Sister Cities of Durham.
The Sister Cities group is a familiar friend of RDU. The organization was part of the Triangle Area Sister Cities sponsorship of the “Friendly Folks” mural by Chapel Hill artist Jane Filer. The colorful mural in the international arrivals area depicts people and places from throughout the world.
In addition to our work with the Triangle Area Sister cities, our reach in the community happens in many ways. The WWII veterans’ Flights of Honor to Washington, D.C., an Olympic welcome home ceremony for Duke University athletes, a canned food drive, a December work day at the Durham Rescue Mission and our annual Special Olympics of North Carolina Plane Pull and support for the Walk for Hope are a few community events we participated in this past year.
Yes, it is rewarding to develop and welcome a new flight, but equally rewarding to see the results of air service when we bring people together from many corners of the world.
The Toyama travel group reminded me that despite the instant communication and video chat capabilities linking us to one another, nothing takes the place of a welcoming crowd, embracing new found friends and continuing a journey where lifelong memories will be made.