Making Connections Sister Cities Unites Towns Worldwide

Article excerpt

Byline: Ames Boykin Daily Herald Staff Writer

President Eisenhower wanted to connect the world.

It was the 1950s. The Cold War was raging. And Sister Cities International was his effort to thaw the world.

But the world has changed.

People can stay connected with the Internet. They can even watch international news on cable, and take advantage of low airfares to travel abroad.

The world has become a smaller place in a lot of ways, so does it still need Sister Cities International to help keep people connected?

The head of the Association of Sister Cities Illinois thinks so.

Reta Brudd was among about 100 people who recently gathered at the Illinois State Sister City Convention in Elk Grove Village.

At the convention, communities with sister cities shared information on the potential for cultural and trade exchanges with each other, and other towns interested in joining the international group.

Sister Cities International is just as relevant today. As long as there are tensions between nations, Sister Cities International will have a role, supporters say.

"When you get to know a person and you look at a country as a place where your friends live, it changes your perspective on the world," Brudd said.

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq, some people who live in the German sister city of Brudd's hometown, Tinley Park, have told her they support the action despite what the country's leaders have said.

Just as Americans who oppose the war have made their feelings known, Germans in support of the war also want to let people know where they stand, Brudd said.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Sister Cities International began encouraging communities to form relationships with countries not as served by the group, including those in the Middle East, Africa and other predominantly Arab nations. …