Sister Cities kicks off 25th anniversary year

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 11:42 AM

This year of 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the formal establishment of Sister Cities of Durham. 

In 1989, Durham Sister Cities formed partnerships with Durham, UK; Kostroma, Russia; and Toyama, Japan.   Since then, we added Arusha, Tanzania, in 1991; Zhuzhou, China, in 2012; and Kunshan, China, in 2013.  Here are some of the events and programs that will focus on this year’s theme of “Durham and the World:  Journeys Toward World Peace.”

Our Toyama Committee will host a second visit by students from the Toyama, Japan, College of Foreign Languages, Feb. 23 – March 14.  We had a successful visit last year when 32 Japanese students were hosted by 27 Durham area families.  We will again arrange English classes in partnership with Durham Technical Community College, and provide cultural activities and tours with members of the Toyama committee, DTCC and the host families.  This year approximately 20 students with two faculty will come.  If you are interested in hosting one of the students, please contact us at 

 We will have our second annual “Tea Tasting” program in the fall.  This is a popular event, with each of our city committees providing tea and snacks that reflect their Sister City’s host country.

We will continue our monthly articles in “The Durham Herald” section of the Sunday edition of The Herald-Sun.

We will again partner with the Durham County Library with our presentations in the popular Humanities Series programs.   Last year’s programs focused on Russian literature, Chinese opera, a documentary program with Arusha and our international quilts project.  More information will be available in the library publications.

In April, our Zhuzhou Committee will again host a visit by elementary school students from Zhuzhou, China.  We anticipate partnering with several elementary schools in the Durham area as we did last year. 

Throughout the year, our Arusha Committee will be developing programs to provide school uniforms and school supplies for a group of orphans.   They will continue to support a women’s sewing business they helped establish to provide some economic independence for that group.

Our Kostroma Committee has been invited by their counterpart in Russia to send a delegation to join them as they celebrate the 25th anniversary in Kostroma.

On June 26, we will have a recognition night at the Durham Bulls game, with the Durham Children’s Choir singing the national anthem.

Our Durham, UK, Committee is working with the Office of Community Engagement at Duke and with the Durham Children’s Choir to host a July visit by the Chamber Choir of Durham University in England.  They anticipate performances at Duke Chapel and other venues in the area.

In September, our Toyama Committee will again host medical residents from Toyama in partnership with the Duke Hospital system.  We also hope a medical person from Duke will travel to Toyama.  This exchange program has been successful for a number of years.

We continue to work with the Sarah P. Duke Gardens for plans for developing a Chinese Garden in the Asiatic Arboretum.

We will be working with the staff at City Hall to have displays of our international quilts and some of the art and artifacts from our Sister Cities.

An exciting new venture is our newly formed Youth Committee within Sister Cities.   This will consist of area high school and college students interested in international programs both abroad and here in Durham, as well as participating in the youth programs in Sister Cities International.   If you are interested in participating, please contact us at .

In the fall, we will have a banquet to celebrate our 25th Anniversary, with awards reflecting our mission of building mutual understanding between Durham, NC and our international city partners.

Sister Cities of Durham actually began with a Durham, UK, connection in 1975.  This was not very active until a group of Durham residents formally established our Sister Cities of Durham program in 1989.  All of our partnerships have been signed by the mayors of the respective cities.  If you are interested in participating in any of our activities or joining one of our Sister City Committees, please contact us at