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Aug. 31 - Tribal Masks of Africa | Harrison Museum



Welcome to Sister Cities! It means “people-to-people” diplomacy.

After the devastation, death and destruction of World War II and the Korean War, people yearned for peace. It became obvious that preventive medicine was needed. If people get to know one other, they find out that barriers of difference can be overcome --- whether national, racial, language, ethnicity, religion, culture or even political. There is empowerment in the desire to be friends, to be open to new ideas, to learning about each other, while sharing and enjoying music, dance, art and savory cuisine. Mutual respect, patience, and determination erase stereotypes. Friendship medicine heals minds and saves bodies.

Starting in 1956, the values of “citizen diplomacy” found a hero in President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He understood that peace starts with people, that violence begets violence and death, but respect, understanding and cooperation yield new life.

How to start? Keep it simple! Match your city with another in the world. Through Sister Cities International, our parent organization, there are now 2,400 partnerships in 134 countries. Direct city-to-city links are working. Enduring friendships between peoples can encourage governments to find peaceful solutions before resorting to violence.

In 1964, Roanoke Valley Sister Cities started as a shared seed in the minds of three people: Dr. Young U. Kim in Wonju, Korea, and Bill & Mag Poff in Roanoke, Virginia. The commitment of three citizen diplomats has been infused into a cadre of 260 families who actively promote peace, now expanded into six more cities on four continents: Kisumu, Kenya (1976), Pskov, Russia (1992), Florianopolis, Brazil (1995), Opole, Poland (1995), Lijiang, China (1996) and St.-Lo, France (1998).

Our Web site is a window on a diverse world --- a passport to visit, to learn, to enjoy differences. You can travel through links to where 3 million people live, and you can host visitors from far corners, thousands of miles away.

Enduring new friends are waiting. Come, join us.

You are welcome!

Dr. Charles L. Downs
President, Roanoke Valley Sister Cities