International connections for businesses and UMKC
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The concept of Sister Cities, or twin towns, originated after World War II to create cultural and commercial ties between communities internationally. Kansas City has 13 sister cities. Morelia, Mexico just recently renewed its agreement with KC, making it Kansas City’s third Mexican sister. Other international sisters include Seville, Spain; Kurashiki, Japan; and Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Local professionals, students, and even musicians can benefit from sister city relationships. Bobby Watson, the director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was able to join up with a jazz band in a sister city, Hanover, Germany, and subsequently tour other German cities practicing and performing. Likewise, other international musicians from sister cities have traded places with local professors and musicians to give master classes.
Some of Kansas City’s sister city relationships are visible by just by glancing at the cityscape. For instance, much of the Country Club Plaza is modeled after Spanish architecture found in Seville, Spain. Additionally, the city’s relationship with Xi’an, China, has resulted in the annual Dragon Boat Festival which takes place near the Plaza in Brush Creek, and even an upcoming marathon exchange program.
“These exchanges can add tremendously to the cultural and business life of a city,” said Mike Wood, former president of the Sister City Association of Kansas City. “I’d like to impress on people the international nature of Kansas City. People don’t often realize, but sister cities and other organizations contribute to making this a livable city.”
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