A total of 40 students and teachers from Nashville area public and private high schools participated in two-week cultural and educational exchanges with four of our sister partners this summer. The students stayed with host families, attended school, met city leaders and toured cultural attractions and historic sights. Four groups of Student Ambassadors spanned the globe to Mendoza, Argentina; Caen and Paris, France; Magdeburg and Berlin, Germany; and Tamworth and Sydney, Australia.
Belfast's Lord Mayor Brian Kingston led a delegation of elected officials and city leaders to Nashville for a series of meetings to further enhance our partnership. Best practices were shared on both sides. The group met with Mayor Barry; economic and development officials; the Convention & Visitors Corp.; Chamber of Commerce; Casa Azafran; the Metro Police Department; and the Oasis Center, among many others. Lord Mayor Kingston addressed Metro Council members during their regular meeting. He also managed to run the Titans 5K prior to his departure. Their trip culminated in a final evening enjoying the Grand Ole Opry.
A delegation traveled to Chengdu, China to participate in the Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference and to Taiyuan, China to meet with city leaders and commemorate the tenth anniversary of our twinning. Metro Council Member Sheri Weiner shared an overview of Nashville's economy during presentations in both cities. Delegates also had the opportunity to visit Yuying High School in Taiyuan, where we have been implementing reciprocal student exchanges since 2013.
This spring, Sister Cities welcomed high school and college students from three different continents. High school delegations from Taiyuan, China; Mendoza, Argentina; Belfast, Northern Ireland and Magdeburg, Germany all enjoyed staying with local host families, attending school with their host, touring local attractions and meeting elected officials during their stay in Music City. A university group from Mendoza also participated in a two-week exchange at Belmont University where they studied business and entrepreneurship. Students from Belfast's Ulster University came on a first-time exchange to study our Civil Rights history. More than 50 Nashville families were involved in hosting and volunteering during these exchanges.
More than 30,000 attended the Cherry Blossom Festival on a beautiful day in Nashville at Downtown Public Square. Mayor Megan Barry and Consul General of Japan Masami Kinefuchi led the Sister Cities' Cherry Blossom Walk on the Cumberland River Greenway to kick off the day.
Sister Cities hosted a fun and new event during the Music City Irish Fest this year. The inaugural Wee Whiskey Tournament did not disappoint! Guests had the opportunity to enjoy an unlimited amount of Irish and American whiskeys and then take a turn on the creative miniature golf course at Nashville Sounds First TN Park. Prizes were awarded and guests had a great time as we celebrated our partnership with Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Sister Cities held its annual Membership Appreciation Reception on January 31 at The Freedom Center. Vice Mayor David Briley welcomed guests with a message that Sister Cities' mission to promote peace, inclusivity and cultural understanding is increasingly important in today's world. Outgoing president Gail Ashworth announced the 2017 officer slate: Marieta Velikova, President; Barry Kolar, VP Communications; Brooke Vane, VP Marketing; Julie Dobbs Allen, Treasurer; Mark Schmadtke, Asst. Treasurer; Matt Watkins, Secretary. The membership voted to approve eight new board members: Eric Beyer, Sherie Edwards, Matthew Hollenbeck, Mina Johnson, Chris Marsicano, Matthew Pierce, Becky Sharpe, and Jim Shulman,
Sister Cities signature annual fundraiser - World of Friendship - attracted more than 250 guests to "toast from the top of the town" on Friday, November 4 at the Nashville City Center. Guests sampled international fare from ten area restaurants and caterers as well as bid on unique auction items. The honoree this year was Steve Cobb, the founder and first president of Sister Cities of Nashville.
A Nashville delegation led by Metro Council member Jeff Syracuse visited Belfast in October in conjunction with the annual Belfast Homecoming 2016. The group focused on exchange opportunities with Belfast and Boston in the area of creative industries and higher education.
Sister Cities launched its first high school student exchange to Belfast during Metro Nashville Public School's fall break in October. Five students and a teacher spent a week learning about the history of Northern Ireland, visiting top attractions and attending school with their hosts at Methodist College. See video: youtu.be/mWMBVWW1yxg
Sister Cities of Nashville
Sister Cities of Nashville connects the people of Nashville to people of the world, promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation - one person, one community at a time.