Congress highlights an international flavor

Chris Champion
National CEO, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia
Member, APWA International Affairs Committee

The APWA International Affairs Committee presents this series of articles to assist in the exchange of ideas between our international partners. This article is presented as part of the partnering agreement in place between APWA and its Australian counterpart, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA).

The International Affairs Committee (IAC) of APWA is working with the Kansas City Metro Chapter to highlight an international flavor to the 2002 Congress in Kansas City, September 22-25.

International guests have long been a feature of the APWA Congress and add another dimension to the "ideas exchange" so important at Congress.

Ross Moody, National President of IPWEA, outlined the value of international networking in an article in the March 2002 edition of the APWA Reporter. "The benefits ...cannot be underestimated," he said. "By seeing issues from different perspectives, your mind gets stimulated and new ideas are created."

International friendships are also so important in the troubled world in which we live today.

International Program
A welcoming reception is planned for international guests at Congress on Monday evening. International guests are also invited to the First Timers Meeting held on Sunday morning as a valuable introduction to the Congress and its format.

The International Affairs Committee has sponsored a number of educational sessions during Congress including:

  • "Challenges and Opportunities for Mexico and California"
  • "Towards Sustainable Communities-An International Perspective"
  • "The Experiences of APWA Members in International Settings"
  • "Cross-cultural Communication"
There are also other sessions where contributions are made by international guests, e.g., the "Asset Management Super Sessions" and "The Australian Perspective on Stormwater Management Plans."

Large Australian Contingent
For many years a Study Tour group from Australia has attended the annual Congress along with our friends from Slovakia, Mexico and other countries. The Australians combine this with visits to Councils and other organisations in the United States and Canada. Some travel on to the United Kingdom and Europe.

This year there could be up to 15 delegates attending from Australia. We will again be manning the IPWEA booth in our trademark hats. The booth has become a focal point for the Australians to meet up with local delegates, and to strike up conversations and new friendships. Please come and say g'day!

The Australian Study Tours are funded by Foundations that sponsor the cost of travel and accommodation. In return, the awardees commit to preparing a report on their study tour findings and make presentations at their own Conferences back in Australia. The Australian Foundations have been funded over the years from the surplus of tradeshows held in conjunction with IPWEA conferences.

The APWA/IPWEA Task Force of the IAC is exploring ways to extend the concept of the study tours to establish a Member Exchange Program between our two countries. From personal experience, the Study Tours are invaluable. They give you a much wider picture of the world, new ideas on how to tackle issues at work, and they are an enormous boost to your professional and personal development.

Our group is looking forward to meeting up with other delegates in Kansas City to experience the 2002 APWA International Public Works Congress and Exposition. And to quote from the Program Preview...

"Bring your open mind, your sincere interest and curiosity, along with your vast expertise and knowledge. Share it with others. Add to it from others. And you'll bring home valuable resources and a renewed drive about the latest in what public works has to offer your community."

...And this year, make a point of taking in some of the international experiences available at Congress! See you in Kansas City in September.

Chris Champion can be reached at

International Facts/Proverbs

Australia has lots of titles under its belt:

  • The only country that is also a continent
  • The world's largest island (approximately 3 million square miles)
  • The 6th largest country
  • The world's smallest continent
  • 18,338,000
  • Nearly 23% of the population was born overseas.
  • 94% European
  • 4.5% Asian
  • 1.5% Aboriginal
Major Cities
  • Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart
Time Zones
It may be just an island, but giant Australia takes up three time zones all by itself.

"A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year." — Polish Proverb

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." — Japanese Proverb

"Those who respect the elderly pave their own road toward success." — African Proverb