Sister Cities group plans special ‘global’ tour

Scottsdale Sister Cities’ new sign displays the eight cities it has a special relationship with. (Special to the Progress)

Scottsdale Sister Cities is preparing to pick up where it left off before the pandemic. 

Though the organization has been active over the past two years facilitating art exchanges between its Sister City in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and donating an ambulance to its Sister City in Alamos, Mexico, it felt a sense of isolation after having to stop its exchange of people with communities.

“We are hoping to have physical exchanges. Many of our exchanges have been virtual over the last couple of years and the sad thing is we lost a lot of student involvement since the student exchanges are such a vital part of our program,” said Scottsdale Sister Cities vice president Lisa White.

“We’re hoping that we can get the students back involved and get some exchanges going both for the students and adults to our sister cities.” 

One of the first destinations White would like sent people to is Cairns, Australia, which is celebrating a 35th-year of partnership with Scottsdale that was forged by the late Mayor Herb Drinkwater while he was on a scuba diving trip. 

However, Sister Cities leaders understand that these trips may take some convincing and a lot of money. 

Because of that, the nonprofit intends to treat guests to a multi-media presentation at the Civic Center Library on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Titled “Around the World in 80 Minutes,” it will provide attendees the chance to armchair travel to Scottsdale’s eight sister cities:  Kingston, Canada; Killarney, Ireland; Interlaken, Switzerland; Marrakech, Morocco; Uasin Gishu, Kenya; Cairns,Australia; Haikou, China; and Alamos, Mexico.

Not only will the presentation provide patrons with information about the city’s culture and tourism, but it may surprise some people with interesting facts about other sister cities. 

“Marrakech, Morocco is a moderate Islamic nation, and breaking through those stereotypes on both sides has been just eye-opening and especially poignant for the young students that are going on these exchanges,” White said, explaining:

“They all leave different people and even though our exchanges are very short term – only one to two weeks – but in that time they get to know the family that they stay with.  Many of our cities have these kinds of exchanges, but in Marrakech, it is amazing how it breaks through barriers and stereotypes.” 

Though these exchanges can be eye-opening, White admits they time to coordinate. 

“It takes about a year to prepare the students to become ambassadors. They still have to learn about the city of Scottsdale and a little more about Arizona, and then a little bit about the culture of the place that they’re going and what it means to be a citizen diplomat. So, it takes a while to prepare,” she said,

Yet, White feels that this is an important experience for kids and adults who participate in the exchanges, 

“We try to make the world a better place, one citizen, one city at a time,” she said. “In a world right now that is suffering, maintaining these international relationships is vital in terms of the overall view of sister cities.” 

Though boosting its exchange programs will be a major program announced and boasted about during its presentation, Scottsdale Sister Cities is looking forward to boosting some of its other initiatives. 

“In addition to awareness, and building our, some of our exchanges, and more art and cultural exchanges, of course, we would hope to gather membership,” White said. “So if somebody has an interest in any kind of global cultural exchanges, or showcases, or just an interest in making the world a better place, I think that we’re a great organization for them to consider.” 

If you go: 

When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12

Where: Civic Center Library 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd. 

Cost: Free


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