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The Sister Cities Exchange

Cultural Crossroads: “The Return” by Bergen filmmaker Ingrid Berven see its US premiere at Seattle’s Nordic Lights Film Festival

Originally published to Medium. Travel has always been a key component of Sister Cities exchange, and sometimes a trip abroad can result in the unexpected. For artist Ingrid Berven of Bergen, Norway, it meant moving into the new medium of documentary film, and for me, as president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, a chance meeting in Bergen led to a new involvement in the Seattle cinema community with the successful U.S. premiere of Berven’s debut film, The Return (2017). Through the association, and with sponsorship from the Nordic Heritage Museum and the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), I was able to bring Berven’s film to the Nordic Lights Film Festival in Seattle on Saturday, January 13, 2018. Because 2017 marked the 50th...view

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"The Sultan and the Saint": Building Bridges Through Film

Stories move us.  Films are one of the most effective forms of storytelling and one that can be used to great advantage by Sister Cities, as the Baltimore Luxor Alexandria (Egypt) Sister City Committee did in recent months. A nonprofit film production company, Unity Productions Foundation uncovered an incredible, virtually unknown aspect of a meeting between two men – St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al Malik of Egypt -  in 1219, during the height of the Crusades on the battlefield in Damietta, Egypt. Their meeting inspired the Sultan to make an incredible humanitarian gesture to the defeated Crusader army, which planted the seeds for eventual peace.  The current retelling of the story comes at a similar moment of division, fear, and disunity. Most...view

Three Generations of Citizen Diplomacy

In 1972, Kettering, Ohio established their first sister city relationship with Steyr, Austria. Since then, they have created lasting traditions and legacies together. The two cities have overseen five adult homestays and have conducted an alternating youth exchange for the past 40 years. Kettering and Steyr also participate in cultural exchange: they have been sending music and performance groups to each other’s cities since 1980. Their most outstanding cultural exchanges include when Kettering sent their civic band to Steyr to help celebrate the city’s 1,000th birthday in 1980, and in 1993 when Steyr sent their civic band to Kettering to march in their holiday parade. These long-standing exchanges are exemplary of the legacy these cities have created in the name of...view

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This year marks a pivotal moment during which Sister Cities International is celebrating 60 years of peace through people. Get involved in this momentous year.
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As the world becomes smaller, and connections online become more frequent than face-to-face interactions, multicultural understanding at the community level is more important than ever. Sister Cities International enables citizen diplomats in communities across the world to develop relationships with communities in other countries that are based on cultural understanding and mutual cooperation.Donate