Traveling to a foreign country can often bring new experiences, but teachers find themselves at home in their Sister City when many of the activities and pastimes are the same.
Teachers from Kearney, Nebraska discovered that floating down a river in Dourados, Brazil, is very similar to the whitewater rafting they enjoy at home. High school teachers Scott Steinbrook and Amber Lewis were pleasantly surprised.
“Ironically, Amber and I are a part of the Kearney Whitewater Association, and we were surprised how similar a large Brazilian city is to Kearney,” Steinbrook said.
Along with Michael Stopford, assistant vice chancellor for international affairs at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the two teachers visited Dourados for a week and returned with ideas to bring new connections to their classrooms. “Dourados is only an hour behind us so it will be easy to bring the culture of the city into the classroom through social media and Skype,” Lewis said.
There are presently more than 500 communities in the United States which have Sister Cities around the world, connected through the program that was begun during the Eisenhower Administration in the 1950s.
Stopford feels that the primary advantage of Sister Cities is that they create connections.“Sister Cities is a international global tribunal partnering of cities who feel they have something in common and want to further economic, social, cultural and educational ties,” he said.