It’s been a rocky two years for Sister City relationships across the world. But to ring in 2022 – and hopefully also mark the start of improving public-health conditions – a contingent from the Arlington Sister City Association visited the county’s Sister City of San Miguel, El Salvador.
Orlando Gamarra, president of the San Miguel committee of the Sister City Association, arrived in El Salvador’s second largest city in January and met with a number of groups, as well as Mayor Jose Will Salgado.
Gamarra noted the importance of “working together to develop the educational, cultural, student and sports exchanges” between the two communities, while Mayor Salgado expressed his desire to see the partnership succeed and also to visit Arlington in the near future.
In another meeting, with directors of the Liceo San Miguel, it was proposed to develop a “virtual” exchange between Arlington and San Miguel students in advance of a full exchange when conditions permit. The Sister City Association is currently recruiting students to take part in the initial online effort.
The Arlington Sister City Association was founded in 1991; its first formal partnership was with Coyoacan, Mexico. Although dormant in recent years, that relationship remains in “emeritus” status and could be revived in the post-pandemic era.
In 2006, the Arlington Sister City Association signed a friendship agreement with San Miguel, a precursor to a formal arrangement. Two years later, the official Sister City agreement was signed; the Arlington County Board chairman at the time was Walter Tejada, himself a native of El Salvador.
San Miguel was founded in 1530 and currently has a population of approximately 300,000. Located at the base of two volcanoes, it sits near the Pan-American Highway, making it a center of trade, and serves as the hub of a large agricultural region.
Additional Arlington Sister City Association relationships include Aachen, Germany; Reims, France; and Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.