The delegation of students are all part of WHINSEC’s Transnational Threats course and all law enforcement and military personnel representing eight different countries; Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador and Dominican Republic.

FORT WALTON BEACH – Fort Walton Beach Mayor Dick Rynearson went for the hands-on approach in welcoming an international student delegation to City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think it’s going to be a full house,” Rynearson said, smiling, as he carried more chairs into the city council chambers. “It’s a good problem to have.”

In all, 61 students from the United States Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation toured the Air Force Armament Museum on Wednesday morning before making their way to City Hall.

Rynearson and Okaloosa County Economic Development Council Associate Director Kay Rasmussen gave the students a tutorial on how Fort Walton Beach’s infrastructure works – everything from the city’s leadership to its relationship to the military and the economic impact the military has on the community.

The delegation of students are all part of WHINSEC’s Transnational Threats course and all law enforcement and military personnel representing eight different countries; Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador and Dominican Republic.

The students, who are attending courses in Fort Benning, Georgia, were led by Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Gonzalez, the course director, and Staff Sgt. Sidney Amurrio, with both also pulling double duty as interpreters.

“The students are here to learn whatever they can about Fort Walton Beach,” Amurrio said. “We want them to be able to see the customs, culture, how everything works.”

The students were scheduled to visit U.S. Coast Guard Station Destin and the Destin office of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday.

Rynearson said he’s participated in similar presentations in the past with the U.S. Air Force, but this was his first presentation to an Army-affiliate group – but the message would be the same.

“The thing that’s really important to get across (to the students) is that here, civilians and military work together and we thrive,” Rynearson said. “In some of the countries the students are representing, there isn’t a peaceful co-existence between civilians and military or law enforcement and there’s a lot of distrust.

“We want to show them that when those two groups work together they can be successful and it benefits everyone.”