Happy New Year to all Tempe Sister City Members.
….I was disappointed to learn over the holidays that the auto company, Saab, headquartered in Trollhattan, Sweden filed for bankruptcy protection. A proposed sale to Chinese investors failed to materialize. Tempe has been discussing a sister city affiliation with Trollhattan since the fall of 2009. The economic problems faced by Saab have been a major concern for the leaders of that southwest Sweden city of some 50,000 population. Ten percent are employed by Saab so Trollhattan is facing economic woes and an international outreach to Tempe may be delayed.
….The 32 student selection we make this spring will bring the total to 745 Tempe high school juniors chosen to represent our city around the world in eight sister cities plus Trollhattan where for the third successive year we will be sending two delegates. The 32 student delegates this year will mirror the number representing Tempe in 2011; eight to Regensburg; four to Skopje; four to Lower Hutt; four to Zhenjiang; four to Beaulieu-sur-Mer; four to Carlow; two to Cuenca and two to Trollhattan.
….Receiving season’s greetings and New Year’s wishes from all of our sister city friends around the world was a highlight. Many years ago, President Ronald Reagan told a group of sister city international people in the oval office that “You all should make as many friends as possible around the world; it’s the best work you can do for America.” Tempe’s doing its best to follow that advice. It made a strong impression on me as I was President of Sister Cities International and it was always a thrill to have meetings in the White House. President Reagan was a man of peace, but it was Reagan who said in 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
….The sister city idea began in 1956. It was President Dwight Eisenhower, our 33rd President, who was our founder. Every President since our beloved Ike has served as Honorary President of Sister Cities International. It’s a program that allows a Tempe student, teacher or anyone else to become a citizen diplomat – someone who can tell the story of our democracy and freedom and make friends for America.
….A Kiwi marriage is on the horizon. When a Tempe delegation travelled to Lower Hutt in March to celebrate our 30th anniversary, we were graciously hosted by Mayor Ray Wallace and Linda Goss, his significant other. I suggested they come to our Oktoberfest and International Economic Forum and get married in Tempe. It didn’t quite work out that way but Jane and I heard from Linda over the holidays that their wedding is planned for early 2012.
….Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman made an extraordinary effort to spend time in Zhenjiang, China in early November. He was committed to a trip to Kazakhstan and then added Zhenjiang in his most difficult itinerary. His fascinating journey was reported to our Board of Directors at our November meeting and I have asked him to share this experience in our next Quarterly publication.
….Another great personal interest story will be shared in the Quarterly when we interview Bob Henne, a longtime TSC member who participates in our golf scramble each month. Bob landed at Normandy on D Day 1944. He has met Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Monty Montgomery and George Patton. Watch for this story.