Wednesday, June 28, 2000

    "Sister" program's origins traced to Ike in '56

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Sister Cities began at the behest of President Eisenhower in 1956.

        The Korean War was a fresh memory, and the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union was in progress. And, too, news of anti-colonialist forces bent on driving the French from Vietnam had just made the pages of the nation's newspapers.

        Since the end of World War II, Americans had engaged in cultural exchanges with foreign neighbors, but there was no federally organized effort.

        Mr. Eisenhower proposed such a program because he believed that understanding was key to preventing world events of the recent past from being repeated in the future.

        The initiative did so well that in 1967 Sister Cities became a separate, nonprofit organization, with the State Department acting as an oversight body.

        “Now, there are more than 2,500 partnering cities in over 130 countries participating in this program,” said Edmund Benner, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based national oversight organization, Sister Cities International (SCI).

        Cincinnati's first partnership began in 1988, when a committee of residents formed an alliance with Liuzhou, China. A second alliance followed that year with Gifu, Japan.

        Five other sister-city relationships followed, and officials are now exploring the possibility of a South American sister relationship.

        A number of Ohio cities have formed similar relationships, including Lebanon, which partners with Kokofu, Japan; Montgomery and Neuilly-Plaisance, France; Blue Ash and Ilmenau, Germany; and Middletown with Furukawa, Japan.

Sister cities benefit beyond good will
-     "Sister" program's origins traced to Ike in '56

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