SISTER CITY PROGRAM
Sister City relationships offer a way for ordinary Iraqi and American citizens to support friendship, healing, and Iraqi efforts to rebuild. A sister city relationship is about building peaceful and mutually-beneficial relationships between the people of two cities. President Eisenhower launched the idea in 1956 when he called for massive exchanges between Americans and people of other nations.
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In 2009, Minneapolis residents worked with the city council to approve a Sister City relationship with Najaf, Iraq. Since then, eight delegations have traveled to Minneapolis from Najaf for professional training and friendship-building, and four delegations have gone to Najaf from Minneapolis.
In November 2012, a delegation organized by IARP traveled from Minneapolis to Najaf. According to the Najaf provincial government, which helped host the delegation, the group of seven Americans was the first American citizen delegation to travel to Najaf since before 2003. The group helped plant 70 trees in Najaf and met with governmental, non-governmental, and academic groups in Najaf.
In October and November of 2011, a medical delegation from Najaf visited Minnesota to build relations with health-care professionals, universities and hospitals. Local volunteers hosted the physicians in their homes and provided transportation, interpretation, and other services. One of the delegates, Dr. Ali Rashid, said, “”Iraqi doctors are eager to learn, but we don’t have the opportunity to learn. Thank you for this exceptional trip.””
In February 2012, IARP partnered with Meet Minneapolis: Official Convention + Visitors Association to host 5 delegates from Minneapolis’ Sister City of Najaf for training on festival and event management. The five delegates met with over 25 government officials and staff from the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis convention and hospitality community.
In the summer of 2011, IARP Development and Communications Director Luke Wilcox traveled to Najaf, carrying with him a letter of friendship from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to the people of Najaf and the governor of Najaf Province. Wilcox was hosted by Sami Rasouli, the director of IARP’s partner organization in Najaf, the Muslim Peacemaker Teams (MPT).