Have you ever visited a city abroad and thought to yourself how much it reminds you of another place? New York City may feel like home, but there is something familiar about the fast paced lifestyle in London that makes you want to live there. Imagine those cities networking together and helping each other out; to promote tourism and cultural understanding. This is the main concept of Sister Cities International; connecting international cities in many interesting ways.
The History: The mission statement explains it best: Promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation; one individual, one community at a time. Since the 1950’s, the national headquarters in the United States hoped to empower citizen diplomats with interactions abroad. By understanding and comparing cities to each other, it provides the opportunity to work together. Annual conferences are held to provide support and to expand the Sister Cities International program. Projects include community development, youth exchanges, and typical concerns of a nation: health care, the environment and public policy.
What is this relationship?: After being officially bound at a signing ceremony, sister cities agree to share and contribute diverse ideas and activities between each other. This nonprofit citizen diplomacy community hopes to strengthen partnerships between American cities abroad to promote cultural understanding, especially through the Youth. These stimulated environments create new ideas and a great flow of communication through a network of about 135 countries worldwide.
Sister cities can find each other in many strange ways. It can be through friendly negotiations between policy leaders, business men, or just communities that share the same name or festival celebration. Generally, sister cities can be extremely similar in structure or even geographically, but there are many successful opposite sibling pairings.
What are the benefits?: Besides cultural promotion and international awareness, there are other fantastic opportunities created through the program. Cities are able to participate in grant programs towards global projects. Coordinators and volunteers get involved in the community to be fully aware of the vibe and personal issues in each city. Through meetings and conferences, it gives everyone the advantage to learn about new innovations, cultures and experiences abroad.
Examples of Sister Cities:
New York City: Beijing, China; Budapest, Hungary; Cairo, Egypt; London, England; Madrid, Spain
London, England: Arequipa, Peru; Berlin, Germany; Moscow, Russia; New York City; Bogota, Colombia
Paris, France: Rome, Italy (There is even a famous quote about these sister cities: “Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris.”
However, many cities still compare themselves to Paris accordingly:
Paris of the Middle East – Beirut
Paris of the Orient – Shanghai
Paris of the Orient – Manilla
Paris of South America – Buenos Aires
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