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ArlingtonSister City Assn. jump-starts El Salvador relationship

Sister City Assn. jump-starts El Salvador relationship

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As the pandemic becomes more baked into daily life and a new sense of normalcy arrives, the Arlington Sister City Association is moving forward in restarting some relationships that have been downscaled over the past two years.

But at the same time, a planned sixth Sister City relationship will be on hold for the time being.

The non-profit organization announced Nov. 5 that its San Miguel (El Salvador) Sister City Committee has elected new leadership, with president Orlando Gamarra sworn in during a ceremony at Atlacatl restaurant.

Joining members of the committee at the event were Arlington Sister City Association chair Hanna Eun and executive director Christy Walika.


Also in leadership posts for the San Miguel committee are vice president Russell Ramirez, treasurer Erika Cuchillas, secretary Lily Caballero and executive director Manfredo Mejia. Directors of various functions include Jairo Gonzalez, Jose Pineda, Mauricio Coreas, Kim Chi Crittenden and Miriam Fuentes.

Arlington and San Miguel inked a “friendship agreement” in 2006, a precursor to a formal Sister City relationship signed in 2008 that saw San Miguel join existing Arlington partnerships with Aachen, Germany; Coyoacan, Mexico; and Reims, France.

(Later, a fifth Sister City agreement was signed with Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.)

While the San Miguel sub-group has the wind at its back at restarting relationships, plans for a sixth Sister City appear to be on hold.

The group hoping to make Setagaya, Japan, that sixth partnership has opted to pause plans for the moment “in hopes of pursuing a relationship in the future,” Sister City officials said.

Setagaya is a “special ward” (equivalent in some ways to a city) of 920,000 residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area. While its population is more than three times that of Arlington (a community that sometimes likes to think of itself as filled to the brim with people), those 920,000 make their home in just 22 square miles, compared to Arlington’s 26. Its recorded history dates to the 15th century, when a number of villages dotted the region.

Officials say the plan for a new Sister City isn’t being abandoned, just put on hold. For information on the effort, see the Website at https://sites.google.com/view/arlingtonsetagaya/home.

Setagaya already has Sister City relations with Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Bunbury, Western Australia, Australia.

The Sister City concept originated out of the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s, designed as a way to foster international friendships in the tense Cold War era. Today, according to the International Sister City Association, there are 500 participating communities in 140 countries, with a total of 2,000 partnerships.

The Arlington County government has had a sporadic relationship with the association, but it has become more formalized in recent times. This year, the county government has kicked in $45,000 in support.

For information, see the Website at www.arlingtonsistercities.org.

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