As published in the Daily Camera 3/3/16

Stephanie Martz is president of Boulder-Dushanbe Sister Cities.

I am writing in response to the article “Boulder again considering 8th sister city” (Daily Camera, Feb. 25), reporting on the application to the Boulder City Council to extend sister city designation to Nablus in the Palestinian Territories. This July, Sister Cities International will be celebrating its 60th anniversary as a U.S.-led effort to foster world peace by nurturing relationships between Americans and ordinary citizens of other countries.

Boulder citizens have a distinguished history of participating in this important program and the relationships with our sister cities have enriched our community. One case in point, the beautiful Dushanbe Teahouse, was a gift from the people of Dushanbe via the sister city relationship. This architectural gem is a tangible display of the depth and beauty of an ancient culture to which Americans otherwise have little exposure. The Teahouse is a must-see on the Boulder tourist map and is popular with Colorado natives and visitors alike, bringing in thousands of dollars of revenue to our community.

More important, it cements a friendship between our peoples that has endured and thrived since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistani Civil War of the mid 1990s, 9/11 and the U.S. military involvement in neighboring Afghanistan — as well as renewed tensions with Russia today. Boulder’s support of obscure, controversial or complicated sister cities is a critical opportunity to carry out President Eisenhower’s original vision to promote world peace and prosperity by fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world.

The Boulder-Nablus sister city group has demonstrated its commitment to President Eisenhower’s goals with the many cultural exchanges it has already organized. We therefore urge City Council’s favorable consideration of this Nablus application. Boulder citizens should be proud of our bravery in partnering with our sister cities, especially those with challenges.

I would encourage residents to reach out to the existing organizations Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Jalapa (Guatemala), Kisumu (Kenya) , Lhasa (Tibet), Mante (Mexico), Yamagata (Japan) and Yateras (Cuba)to participate in the many opportunities for cultural exchange and learning that they offer. The sister cities program promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation at a time in which the world needs it most.


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