Pasadena Sister Cities Summer Exchange Experience
Pasadena High School
This past summer three of our students Kinsey Burgess and Jillian Stout-Blackman, members of the Class of 2013, and Grace Baghdasarian, Class of 2012 participated in the Pasadena Sister Cities Summer Exchange Program. Kinsey and Jillian went to Ludwigshafen, Germany and Grace went to Vanadzor, Armenia.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the Sister Cities program in 1956 to achieve international peace through a people-to-people concept of twinning U.S. cities with foreign communities all over the globe. His Hope was that through goodwill, understanding, and helping other cultures we would ensure a world of Peace. Presently, 1,060 U.S. cities have Sister City ties with over 1,900 cities in 120 nations. Sister Cities is the largest citizen exchange organization in the world and is head-quartered in Washington DC. SCI is a non-profit, national organization.
This Pasadena Sister Cities Committee is an official committee of the City of Pasadena. Most of the organization’s programs are financed through fund raising efforts of the membership. Such funds are used to help entertain foreign visitors, to arrange cultural exchanges, and most importantly, to benefit the student exchange programs. The volunteer members have helped set a pace for the future by globally linking Pasadena with lasting friendships with our sister cities.
Ludwigshafen became Pasadena’s original sister city through the efforts of the American Friends Service Committee in Pasadena, who wished to provide war relief to Europe after World War II, as had been done after the First World War.Strategically located on the Rhine River, Ludwigshafen was bombed 107 times during World War II. In December 1945 representatives from the American Friends Service Committee from Pasadena arrived in Ludwigshafen to determine what help was most needed. The citizens of Pasadena were quick to respond and for several years packages of blankets, clothing, food, and medicines were sent to Ludwigshafen with the names and addresses of the Pasadenans sending them. Many friendships were formed. When normal times returned, visits of the citizens of both cities began and continue to this day. Today, Ludwigshafen, with a population of 160,000 is one of Germany’s most prosperous industrial cities. Student exhanges occur every summer and both cities sponsor an “intern” program where the students have the opportunity to obtain work experience in a field in which they hope to have careers.
Vanadzor was established as Pasadena’s fourth sister city in 1991. It is located in the northwestern region of the Republic of Armenia, about 80 miles north of the capital city, Yerevan. With a population of about 175,000 it is the third largest city in Armenia. The city was rapidly growing in size before the tragic earthquake in December 1988. Seventy percent of the city’s buildings were either completely destroyed or became uninhabitable. Vanadzor is widely know for its wonderful “Lory” mineral water, clean running springs, green hills, and snow-capped mountains, visible in all directions. The city is now in the process of rebirth and change.
All the students stayed with host families and said that the trip was a very rewarding and memorable experience. Kinsey and Jillian were kept busy during the week working with children through the internship program. They worked in a kindergarten class, a day care and in a summer camp.
At night and on the weekends Kinsey and Jillian spent time with their host families learning about some of the great things that Germany has to offer. Some of the highlights of the trip were going to a EuroCup game, taking a cruise on the Rhein River, visiting the castles, traveling to Munich, trying German foods like Schnitzel and Spaetzle. This summer a daughter of one of the host families will be staying with Jillian’s family.
All three girls had a memorable experience and have made many new friends/family.