Contributed by Una Hartzell-Baird

 When I was invited to help with the marketing of Sister Cities Fest 2014, I thought it would be a great chance to meet new people, get creative, and do one of my favorite things- volunteer.  What I wasn’t expecting was a group that worked so well together, it hardly felt like work!  And I learned that there is much more to the program than meets the eye.

Indianapolis Sister Cities is part of the broader program, Sister Cities International whose mission is to promote “international awareness and understanding through cultural, educational, civic and business engagement and exchange…” Indianapolis Sister Cities dates back to 1978 with the first sister city of Taipei, Taiwan.  Today, Indianapolis features sister city partnerships with eight cities: Taipei, Taiwan; Cologne, Germany; Monza, Italy; Piran, Slovenia; Hangzhou, China; Campinas, Brazil; Northamptonshire County, UK; and Hyderabad, India.

Indianapolis Sister Cities has four simple values:

  • Respect for all people, all beliefs and all cultures
  • Inclusive for all to participate
  • Collaborative with like-minded organizations
  • Volunteer in a team approach, with integrity and a focus to benefit our community

The Sister Cities Fest is an event that integrates all of these values in addition to helping the volunteers grow professionally through specific tasks and the opportunity to network.   If you’ve never heard of Indianapolis Sister Cities or the Sister Cities Fest, you’re missing out!

The program won the Best Overall Program award from Sister Cities International (category – Cities with a population of 500,000+) in 2013. This year, I’m honored to be attending the Sister Cities International Conference in Minneapolis to accept the Innovation: Arts & Culture Award along with Jane Gehlhausen, the Director of International & Cultural Affairs in the Office of Mayor Greg Ballard.

Be sure to check out Sister Cities Fest 2015 and join me for a free and fun family event!  And, check back in August for an update on the Sister Cities International Conference.