"FRIENDS ACROSS BORDERS"
THE SISTER CITIES ORGANIZTION OF CHARTER TOWNSHIP REDFORD, MICHIGAN, USA
SISTER CITIES INTERNATIONAL was founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the "People to People" program. Its main function was to promote friendship and understanding among people of different cultures and different surroundings.
Its objective is to make a significant contribution to global peace. In order to achieve and maintain this peace, it is necessary to bring about understanding and a sense of mutual interest and purpose among all of the world's people through exchange of people, ideas and things.
The program itself brings together both municipal and voluntary community resources for the common purpose of international communication and interaction.
“IF PEOPLE GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER, THEY WILL LEARN TO RESPECT AND APPRECIATE EACH OTHER!” Being in the twenty-first century, America is no longer the only "melting pot" of ethnic groups; the whole world is losing its cultural and economic boundaries. Until recently the inability to communicate and the continued lack of understanding among the people of the world have been an obstacle which has prevented our realizing the "One World" concept to which we all should be committed.
The Sister Cities Program, which already links more than 800 American and 1500 foreign communities in over 124 nations in rewarding exchanges of people and ideas, anticipates continuing this dialogue between global neighborhoods. Just recently many more individual cities have entered the international arena; and they are becoming a powerful force for peace and friendship.
"PEACE THROUGH PEOPLE"
This group is a creative force of international cooperation and understanding through citizen involvement and community participation.
Sister City International www.sister-cities.org
Sister Cities Membership Application: Click Here
REDFORD’S SISTER CITIES
St. Johann, an enchanting small town of a little more than 7000 inhabitants, is located at 660 meters above sea-level in a broad, sunny completely avalanche safe valley between the Wilde Kaiser (Wild Emperor Mountains) and the Kitzbuehler Horn. The originally purely farming area, with its many picturesque houses, has a tradition of tourism. Alongside its extensive leisure facilities, St. Johann in Tirol offers all its guests the warm and friendly atmosphere, which over the years, has made the town so well-known and so well-loved. In winter as well as in summertime, St. Johann is well worth a visit. Skiing is at its best; abounding in snow and sun, it is one of the choice winter-sports resorts. International events, such as World Cup Bike races, international trotting races, swimming pools and ice arenas attract thousands of people every year.
In the summer of 1970, a group of 43 Redford Union High School students sponsored by Manfred Heuser and Timothy Parrish, both teachers at Redford Union, visited Europe with the intent of studying the German language and customs first hand. This trip, however, turned into much more.
St. Johann, in Tirol, Austria, one of the first stops on this tour, was at first apprehensive about accepting a student group. However, the city soon changed its mind, and there was a "love affair" between our students and the townspeople. By the end of the all-too-brief stay, gifts were exchanged along with future promises of sister-cityhood.
During the following year, commissions were established here and abroad and the formal process of town affiliation was begun. In June of 1971, we were again in St. Johann, this time not only as student travelers, but also as delegates of the Township for the formal union of the two cities. In February 1972, we were officially affiliated as Sister Cities.
One burning problem began to arise … we realized that Redford Township did not know that she had a sister-city in Austria. Our sending of students from both Redford Union and Thurston High Schools had only a limited ability to spread the good news. Therefore, after the summer of 1972, we began work on a "Manifest" which would introduce the Township to her Austrian sister.
May of 1973 saw the township ice arena converted into a fairground offering items from both countries. The highlight of the program was the visit of 45 Austrians to our festival. They performed the music and dances of their native Tirol, and in their free moments lived as members of township families.
In the summer of 1974 we had 438 people from Redford visit our sister city, St. Johann in Tirol. Two high school bands, a unicycle club, township officials, including the supervisor, township trustees, policemen and fire fighters, teachers, students, and residents helped celebrate the midsummer-night Sister-City Festival in St. Johann in Tirol, Austria. This trip, more than any other event, was the beginning of our relationship, and firmly cemented the friendship between the people of both communities.
Over the years, student, band and soccer team exchanges have taken place. Redford and St. Johann received 6 international awards, presented by the Reader's Digest Foundation, for OVERCOMING GEOGRAPHICAL DISTANCE, LOCAL AWARENESS, twice BEST SINGLE PROJECT, and a CULTURAL AWARD and once the top award, BEST OVERALL PROJECT. Since we were competing with some 800 other cities in the U.S. we are quite proud of our accomplishments.
As of today, 2840 people from Redford and surrounding communities have visited our sister city in Austria; more than 500 Tiroleans from St. Johann have been our guests in Redford.
Whenever a group of Redford citizens toured Europe since 1981, it always included into their itinerary a stop at Gau-Algesheim on the legendary, beautiful River Rhine. There they were royally entertained by the "Contrast Band", the "Gulaschsinger" and the townspeople in wine-tasting and sing-a-long parties.
It all started when Peter Kressmann, a General Motors Executive in Germany, was sent to the U.S. on business matters. For many years he had been a member of the group called "Gulaschsingers", who performed every year at all kinds of functions, especially carnivals and festivals in the area around the cities of Mainz and Bingen. Besides TV appearances and command renditions, they were much liked and sought whenever a celebration took place. Before Peter Kressmann left his home town, he had to promise to arrange a performance for the "Gulaschsingers" and the "Contrast Band" somewhere soon in the United States. In Michigan, at a meeting of German artists, he got together with Manfred Heuser, at that time Chairman of the Sister City Organization Redford.
Plans were made and finalized; these two groups were invited to perform at Redford's next Sister City Festival. What a success! They were immediately booked every evening, not only in the Redford area, but also in Toledo, Ohio, Frankenmuth and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
As expected, both groups were asked back to entertain in future years. The "Contrast Band" has performed in the U.S. already 7 times, the "Gulaschsingers" and a 28 piece accordion orchestra twice.
Finally, in 1988, the decision was made by both communities to be officially affiliated as sister cities. The Partnership Charter was signed on June 31, 1990, in the town hall of Gau-Algesheim, Germany by Mayor Claus-Friedrich Hassemer, by Theo Hattemer, President of the Sister City Organization Gau-Algesheim, and by Manfred Heuser, Chairman of the Sister City Commission Redford, Michigan. The ceremony was witnessed by the city council and the citizens of Gau-Algesheim, by 16 high school students from Redford and their teacher, Timothy Parrish, and by 4 sister city commission members of Redford.
The main emphasis in recent years was the promotion of our student exchange program, both with St. Johann in Tirol, Austria, as well as with Gau-Algesheim, Germany. Each year, either we host teenagers from Germany or we send our teenagers there.
Knowing and understanding each other and tolerance are prerequisites for peace and freedom. The foundation for this must be laid in the youth by fostering of educational and cultural development as well as conducting and participating in American and Germanic historic and cultural pursuits.
The relationship with our sister cities has been most rewarding, fruitful, educational and pleasant. We are hoping for a continuation of these friendly ties for many years to come.
What are our goals for the future?
A) To make our communities more aware of our program.
B) To increase the student exchange program.
C) To form a meaningful relationship between the people of the different cities, their Chamber of Commerce, other city departments, and schools.
D) To expand communication among students and adults.
E) To discover and appreciate the culture of a foreign group through study and travel.
F) To gain more understanding through cultural and educational exchanges, as well as development of common projects.
G) To learn more about each other and to develop meaningful exchanges to further understanding.
If you would like more information, or if you are interested in joining our group, please attend our monthly meetings (every first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM in the Town Hall).
Or write to:
Sister Cities Organization
Charter Township of Redford, Michigan
15145 Beech Daly Road
Redford, MI 48239
If you only want to be a volunteer, help us arrange home stays and tour activities for our friends from abroad, simply call our secretary Carol Silversides at 313-255-3123 or call the Commission Chairman, Johanna Schaefer at 313-533-5332.
“FRIENSHIP ACROSS BORDERS”
The Sister Cities Organization
Charter Township of Redford, Michigan, USA
Board of Trustees
Supervisor Tracey Schultz Kobylarz
Clerk Garth J. Christie
Treasurer Lily Cavanagh
Trustees Diana M. Brang-Schroeder
R. Miles Handy, II
Redford Township Sister City Commission
Johanna Schaefer, Chair
Marie Lowry, Vice Chair
Carol Silversides, Secretary/Newsletter
Andrea Dadourian, Treasurer
Robyn Smart, Organization Membership
Winston Churchill, Emeritus*
Manfred Heuser, Emeritus*
Sybil Raeside, Emeritus*