Council member leads search to enhance international offerings
Wesley Chapel may soon be on the hunt for a sister.
The idea of finding a sister city for Wesley Chapel sprung up last spring, according to Howard Brotton Jr., a member of the village council and leading push behind the sister-city effort. Brotton was volunteering at Wesley Chapel Elementary’s field day last year, when students representing different countries got him thinking about how the village could reach out across the globe.
“I have two school aged-kids, and one that will be in a few years,” Brotton said. “A sister city might offer them more cultural opportunities and international exposure.”
The idea is one of many planned for discussion during next month’s Wesley Chapel Advance planning meeting. There, Brotton hopes to get some momentum behind the plan from council members and the community at large.
If residents and council show enough interest in the project, Brotton will commence with the application process. Membership dues for Sister City International are $250 per year for towns the size of Wesley Chapel. Then it will be up to finding the perfect place to partner with – a decision Brotton says he’d like to get resident feedback on.
Towns link up with Sister City International for a variety of reasons. The group, based in Washington, D.C., builds global cooperation and promotes cultural understanding. For Brotton, the timing seems ideal.
“Wesley-Chapel is a town with 400 years of history looking to revitalize,” he said. An international sister city program might be a perfect addition for a small town looking to freshen things up.
Picking the right sister city can come down to a number of characteristics, whether it be a common name, a similar heritage or just an interest two towns share. Charlotte became a sister city with Arequipa, Peru, in 1962, and has since added sister cities in Russia, Germany, China, France, Poland and Ghana. An additional city, Hadera, Israel, will soon be added to the list.
Sister City International started in September 1956, when President Eisenhower envisioned the program as a “main cog” for citizen diplomacy. Then called The Town Affiliation Association, the program grew throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and by its 25th anniversary in 1981 there were 720 U.S. cities linked to more than 1,000 communities in 77 nations.
Today, Sister City International facilitates a variety of programs, including a network for sustainable development, youth programs and an International Community Resource Center available to group members only. For more information, visit Sister City International’s website, www.sister-cities.org/.
Have your say
Brotton plans to discuss the sister city idea on March 4, a Friday, during the Wesley Chapel Advance planning meeting at Stone Table in the Shoppes at Nottingham. The meeting begins with dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Residents can register to attend dinner for $18, or they can attend the Saturday session, at 9 a.m., at the Village of Lake Park Community Center.
Other issues up for discussion at the meeting include the future plans for downtown Wesley Chapel. For more information, visit the village’s website at http://ci.wesley-chapel.nc.us/.