Nyeri County, Kenya, is a long way from Cape Coral. Nearly 85 percent of its economy is based on agriculture, particularly coffee, and it is also a popular tourist destination.
A delegation from that part of the world came to Southwest Florida this week to build alliances with the local communities and learn to develop its education, trade and tourism segments.
Officials said the ultimate goal would be for Cape Coral and Nyeri to become sister cities, where the two municipalities can help each other and exchanges ideas and goods.
Nderitu Gachagua, left, governor of Nyeri County in Kenya, awards Oasis High School's Model UN teacher, Dr. Peter Ndiang’ui, with a certificate of recognition at a reception for the Kenyan delegation Tuesday at Rumrunners.
Tuesday night, after a long day of meeting and greeting, the delegation was welcomed by at Rumrunners restaurant for a reception that included nearly all city leaders and the Oasis High School's Model UN team.
The delegation had a lot to take in and learned a lot, said Nderitu Gachagua, Nyeri County's governor.
"We're very excited to be here. The weather is perfect and we get the chance to meet with people here and share our experiences and see how our peoples can benefit," Gachagua said. "We have discussed the possibility of a cultural exchange, education and trade and now we're here."
The reception featured Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki giving Gachagua a key to the city (the first she's given out) and two members of the Model UN team, Claudia Rodriguez-Sanchez and Bailee Peralto made presentations - Rodriguez-Sanchez to implore Nyeri to set up a Model U.N. in its homeland, the latter with a speech she will give at a national competition this summer in Las Vegas.
"We get to meet so many interesting people. Whatever (Dr. Peter Ndiang'ui) is involved in, it's usually very good and exciting," Rodriguez-Sanchez said.
"It's wonderful to be able to have them in and give them support and build relationships," Sawicki said. "I'm glad Dana Brunett was able to set this up and I'm always proud of the Oasis kids. They always seem to amaze me."
But perhaps most proud was Model UN teacher Ndiang'ui, who was born and raised in Nyeri County.
"This is a beautiful thing. It's amazing what we've done," Ndiang'ui said, who received a certificate during the gathering.
It has been a busy three days for the delegation. It arrived Monday night and on Tuesday visited Sanibel and the "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge before visiting Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson.
Today, they will meet with Lee County Schools Superintendent Nancy Graham, FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw and Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, before leaving Southwest Florida for Washington, D.C.
Stan Miano, Nyeri's minister of trade, has found the trip enlightening, as his job is to learn more about tourism and find potential investors.
"Florida has many tourists, so we have a lot to learn. We have met good generous people and we have been blessed to be here," Miano said. "We hope we can continue to engage with these people and promote our relationship.
Brunett saw this as another opportunity to promote business in Cape Coral, while learning more about people halfway across the globe.
"It's beyond cool. I find it enriching because when you bring different people together, you learn things," Brunett said. "This is about opportunities. You never know when they come along, and this may have planted a seed that could lead to something down the road."