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Eastern N.C. Ready to Share its Culture with the World

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ROCKY MOUNT — You have probably seen the Host Town signs across the state for theSpecial Olympics World Summer Games. Being a Host Town means lots of hard work and some culture swapping.

Hundreds of volunteers are preparing to show the world what life is like in North Carolina. Next week, Special Olympics athletes from Honduras, Benin and Togo will learn from Rocky Mount volunteers what life is like in eastern North Carolina.

The tour will include the athletes' first look at an American mall and an American farm.

"They'll also have a softball game they'll be attending which I think is unique for them because it's a national sport, and I think it's a great idea for them attending that," says Jermaine Walker, Rocky Mount Host Town chairperson.

Nearly 130 communities across North Carolina are offering room, board and a cultural snapshot to the athletes.

"We're getting folks from South America. We've got folks from Africa, and that's something a lot of us don't get exposed to on a regular basis," says Kevin Hughes, a Rocky Mount volunteer. "We're really looking forward to that, especially."

InWilson, the Brazilian team specifically asked for a baseball game. The game is set up at Fleming Stadium, but organizers are still looking for people to volunteer before the athletes arrive.

"Especially during the day. We need people day-to-day for sports practice in the morning," says Holly Hart, Wilson Host Town chairperson. "They're going to practice four hours each morning Tuesday and Thursday. In the afternoon, we'll have a little down time where they can use the game room at the School for the Deaf."

The exposure to eastern North Carolina culture may not seem like a big deal, but for first time visitors, this firsthand look at our state just might seem like another world.

Incoming athletes are making a few specific requests. One is to shop at Wal-Mart, and another is to dance to American music.


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