As the home of many diverse cultures, the City of Fort Wayne has embraced all cultures and continues to seek opportunities to share and exchange ideas with other communities. This tradition continues in October, as I join a local delegation that will visit our Sister City of Gera, Germany to celebrate two decades of collaboration. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Fort Wayne-Gera relationship. Our collaborative efforts have included student exchanges; government delegation visits; cultural exchanges that have included musicians, artists, dance troupes and exchanges between law enforcement and parks departments. Our group will visit Gera from October 2 to October 8. Then, a delegation from Gera will visit Fort Wayne in late October to continue the 20th anniversary celebration. The celebration of Sister City partnerships will also include a visit by a delegation from Takaoka, Japan to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Fort Wayne- Takaoka Sister City relationship.
I am so thankful for our Sister Cities partnerships. The focus on learning and citizen diplomacy is to be commended. Fort Wayne and our partner cities are committed to giving back and enhancing the quality of life for residents.
Besides Gera and Takaoka, Fort Wayne also has Sister City relationships with Plock, Poland and Taizhou, China. All four Sister Cities partnerships have emphasized cultural, civic and educational exchanges. The Sister City partnership with Taizhou — which was finalized in May – is unique because it lists economic development as a primary component of that relationship. This means, we will be exploring business development, job creation and innovative exchanges that will benefit residents in both communities.
The national program for Sister Cities International was created in 1956 by President Eisenhower to foster citizen diplomacy and create a more peaceful world. Fort Wayne Sister Cities International, Inc. (FWSCI) was established in 1976 and is affiliated with Sister Cities International, based in Washington, D.C.
On another subject, as you may know, Fort Wayne was propelled into the national and international spotlight recently when Democracy leader and Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi visited our city and delivered a speech at the War Memorial Coliseum on September 25.
We were honored to have her speak in Fort Wayne — as our city is noted for having the largest population of Burmese residents in the United States.
The fact that she chose to make a stop in Fort Wayne during her 17-day tour of the United States was a tremendous experience for all those who attended the event and got a chance to hear her inspiring message of peace, hope and democracy.