Spotlight: Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis, Minnesota
What are your city’s sister cities?
We have 12 sister cities — Santiago, Chile; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Eldoret, Kenya; Harbin, China; Kuopio, Finland; Najaf, Iraq; Novosibirsk, Russia; Tours, France; Uppsala, Sweden; Bosaso, Somalia; Ibaraki City, Japan; and Winnipeg, Canada. Our first sister city was Santiago, Chile — and this year marks 55 years that we have had that relationship. This year also marks 25 years with Tours, France.
How has your community benefited from your sister city program?
Minneapolis is proud of our extremely — and increasingly — diverse population. We have a large Somali community, a large Hmong community, a growing Latino community, as well as groups of Lebanese, Polish, Finnish, Germans, Slovaks, Russians, Ukranians, and many others of all nationalities. We are already connected to the world.
The sister cities program supports deeper connections, including cultural, educational, humanitarian, and business exchanges. With so many challenges and conflicts around the world, these citizen connections have never been more important.
Specifically, when I visited our sister city of Harbin, China, it resulted in increased relationships between our countries. I worked to help establish our sister city relationship with Najaf, Iraq, because I know that when we come together over what makes us similar, it’s difficult to be in conflict with one another.
What would you like to see your sister city program do in the future?
I want to make sure that we’re engaging our youth and getting them involved in the program. If we foster bonds between youth across our different communities, we will build bonds that can last generations. If we can do this through more educational exchanges, perhaps through universities, all the better.
What are you most excited about for Sister Cities International’s 60th Anniversary in Washington, DC?
I’m excited to see people from all over the world come together and see in person that, despite all of our differences, we are have so much in common. Minneapolis was proud to host the 59th Sister Cities International Conference in 2015. I’m certain that this year’s 60th Anniversary in our nation’s capital will be a meaningful experience for all who attend.