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Together, Sister Cities Build Friendships and More

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Sister Cities International is an organization that brings together communities from different areas and different cultures. Sister-city relationships can help communities learn from each other and solve problems together.

Often these partnerships are based on special projects or exchanges. People share their knowledge in areas like education, government, business or technology.

Building sister-city relationships was one of the ideas for the People-to-People Program created by President Dwight Eisenhower. He established the program at a White House conference held on September eleventh and twelfth, nineteen fifty-six.

President Eisenhower wanted to connect citizens who shared an interest in other cultures. He wanted to increase international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities. He believed that citizen diplomats could help build peace.

Sister Cities International is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. The group is involved with programs in one hundred thirty-four countries.

Today, seven hundred American communities have partnerships with almost one thousand eight hundred communities in other countries.

Atlanta, Georgia, for example, has eighteen sister-city partnerships. One is with Brussels, Belgium. Another is with Lagos, Nigeria. These two relationships have existed for more than thirty years. The areas they involve include economic development and trade.

Matthew Corso works for Sister Cities International. He says that within the past fifteen years, more American cities have created partnerships in developing countries. Projects have involved water quality, health care and good government, for example. In Africa, projects might also deal with AIDS and HIV.

Mister Corso says that sister-city partnerships usually result from local connections. Local governments also become involved and may provide some leadership. But, generally, citizen groups are responsible for organizing and supporting partnerships.

Some sister-city relationships are fifty years old. And now there are even "cyber sister cities" -- partnerships created over the Internet.

And that’s the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. Sister Cities International is on the Web at sister-dash-cities dot o-r-g. And if you would like to download transcripts of our reports along with audio files, go to I’m Steve Ember.