Sister Cities conference puts city on world map

Sister Cities International Annual 2012 Conference to be held July 11-14

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

In 1967 the U.S. State Department contacted Jacksonville mayor Hans Tanzler and made a suggestion that would set the city on a path toward international cooperation and peacekeeping for years to come.
“The State Department suggested that we sister with Bahia Blanca, Argentina,” said Doug Coleman, executive vice president of Jacksonville Sister Cities Association. “We had a lot in common, both being port cities and with our Spanish influences, among other things. They felt that it would be helpful to international relations for us to have a formal
partnership.”
Jacksonville has since established seven more sister city partnerships with cities as diverse as Murmansk, Russia and Yingkou, China. The First Coast also has three friendship cities in China.
“Jacksonville has an active, award-winning program devoted to world peace through understanding other cultures and people,” Coleman said. “We have a constant flow of visitors, exchange students, executives and elected officials traveling to and from each of our sister cities. We also offer a number of local cultural and social events throughout the year.”
That includes the 450th Anniversary Celebration of the discovery of the St. Johns River by Jean Ribault on May 1, which will be attended by more than 100 French visitors.
This long and successful history has brought Jacksonville the honor of hosting the Sister Cities International Annual 2012 Conference, July 11-14, at the Hyatt Regency. Roughly 500 people from around the world are expected to attend, including delegations from Jacksonville’s Russian, Korean and French sister cities as well as its three Chinese friendship cities.
“Jacksonville was a natural choice to be the host for our 56th Annual Conference. It has a rich tradition of sister city relationships and volunteerism; therefore leading by example. Also, I’m sure the attendees will not be able to resist the sun and sand that the city has to offer!” said Mary D. Kane, Sister Cities International President and CEO.
Coleman, an Avondale resident and host committee chair, notes a local benefit for the city.
“Aside from the cultural and educational exchange that will take place, it will also bring some economical impact to have 500 people in the city.”
The U.S. sister city program originated in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people, citizen diplomacy initiative. The program’s mission is to "promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time."
Sister Cities is a formal relationship between two communities consummated by the signature of the mayors of both cities and recognized by SCI. A friendship city is less formal and more limited in scope. All local board members and officers are volunteers.
That includes the conference’s “volunteer, volunteer coordinator,” Lourdes Iglesias.
“My goal is to make visitors’ experience as seamless and effortless as possible,” said Iglesias, a San Marco resident.
Toward that end, she is seeking volunteers to help greet and host participants, operate an airport welcome desk, organize city tours, do limited office work and assist with receptions. While knowing a foreign language or having some knowledge of other cultures is helpful, it is not required.
“We’re looking for people who will represent Jacksonville’s positive energy, hospitality and enthusiasm,” Iglesias said.
The same spirit that was in place 45 years ago when Mayor Tanzler accepted that fateful call from the State Department.

Sister Cities International Annual 2012 Conference to be held July 11-14

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

In 1967 the U.S. State Department contacted Jacksonville mayor Hans Tanzler and made a suggestion that would set the city on a path toward international cooperation and peacekeeping for years to come.
“The State Department suggested that we sister with Bahia Blanca, Argentina,” said Doug Coleman, executive vice president of Jacksonville Sister Cities Association. “We had a lot in common, both being port cities and with our Spanish influences, among other things. They felt that it would be helpful to international relations for us to have a formal
partnership.”
Jacksonville has since established seven more sister city partnerships with cities as diverse as Murmansk, Russia and Yingkou, China. The First Coast also has three friendship cities in China.
“Jacksonville has an active, award-winning program devoted to world peace through understanding other cultures and people,” Coleman said. “We have a constant flow of visitors, exchange students, executives and elected officials traveling to and from each of our sister cities. We also offer a number of local cultural and social events throughout the year.”
That includes the 450th Anniversary Celebration of the discovery of the St. Johns River by Jean Ribault on May 1, which will be attended by more than 100 French visitors.
This long and successful history has brought Jacksonville the honor of hosting the Sister Cities International Annual 2012 Conference, July 11-14, at the Hyatt Regency. Roughly 500 people from around the world are expected to attend, including delegations from Jacksonville’s Russian, Korean and French sister cities as well as its three Chinese friendship cities.
“Jacksonville was a natural choice to be the host for our 56th Annual Conference. It has a rich tradition of sister city relationships and volunteerism; therefore leading by example. Also, I’m sure the attendees will not be able to resist the sun and sand that the city has to offer!” said Mary D. Kane, Sister Cities International President and CEO.
Coleman, an Avondale resident and host committee chair, notes a local benefit for the city.
“Aside from the cultural and educational exchange that will take place, it will also bring some economical impact to have 500 people in the city.”
The U.S. sister city program originated in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people, citizen diplomacy initiative. The program’s mission is to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time.”
Sister Cities is a formal relationship between two communities consummated by the signature of the mayors of both cities and recognized by SCI. A friendship city is less formal and more limited in scope. All local board members and officers are volunteers.
That includes the conference’s “volunteer, volunteer coordinator,” Lourdes Iglesias.
“My goal is to make visitors’ experience as seamless and effortless as possible,” said Iglesias, a San Marco resident.
Toward that end, she is seeking volunteers to help greet and host participants, operate an airport welcome desk, organize city tours, do limited office work and assist with receptions. While knowing a foreign language or having some knowledge of other cultures is helpful, it is not required.
“We’re looking for people who will represent Jacksonville’s positive energy, hospitality and enthusiasm,” Iglesias said.
The same spirit that was in place 45 years ago when Mayor Tanzler accepted that fateful call from the State Department.

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