December 6, 2011 Board Meeting
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for December 6, 2011
Board members in attendance: Hudnut, Adams, Cameron, Barre, Nance, Foxman, and Mooers(de1ayed). Guests were Daniel Koroma, Solomon Ayele, Ina Lerman and Norman Goldstein.
The September 15, 201 1 board minutes were approved.
Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehuda – The signing of a partnership agreement between Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehuda and Sister Cities and the County is expected to occur the weekend of either January 21 or January 28, 2011. The County and partners will not sign simultaneously. Ike Leggett may sign on one of the two weekends at a Beit Shemesh event featuring ethnic cooks and musicians at the Magen David Synagogue on Edson Lane in Rockville. It is hoped that Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehuda will present a greeting video for use at this event. Ina Miller from the Jewish Federation reported that a group of Jewish and Arab female, teenage soccer players will visit the County March 2-9. She asked that sister cities assist in arranging some interaction between these visitors and students at public schools in the county. Mier said he could help in this effort. Bruce offered up a meeting with the Lazarus teen leadership group he founded and mentors. Then in May 2012 Ina reported that a small group of American immigrants to Israel would be visiting the County to talk about their experiences. Also, Moise Dadone, Regional Council Director for Mateh Yehuda is expected to visit the County this May. Ina further reported that a business group is going to Israel in January to study business startups there. And it was noted the Jewish Day School has a program in Israel for seniors which might yield some stories and photos for Sister cities. Bruce told the board about an exceptional trip he took to Israel led by Norman Goldstein some years ago.
Gondar, Ethiopia – the November 20, 2011 benefit at the Silver Spring Civic Center netted $11,300 from a gross of $13,000. A sister cities exploratory trip to Gondar will occur from January 18 to January 28 though the travelers may not stay the same length of time. So far it appears that Bruce and Daniel will go on the trip as well as a host from the County Ethiopian community. It’s hoped that an administrator from Montgomery College, might go as well. The goal is to send a small group of 8-12 people (self paid except for Daniel). Tim Warner, County African American liaison has expressed interest in making the trip. Mier reminded the board of the Morazan model where the exploratory trip travelers developed a list of activities in Morazan for partnership purposes which the Morazan Committee reviewed and agreed upon before a partnership agreement was signed. Bruce noted that the travelers would need to meet with national government representatives in Addis Addaba as well as with the Mayor of Gondar. Daniel noted in addition that advanced planning is important to make sure the right meetings can occur on the trip. There is a festival in Gondar on January 20 which the Mayor is eager for the visitors to see and enjoy. After the exploratory trip Bruce stated that it might take a year from January for officially signing a partnership agreement with Gondar. Solomon Ayele was hopeful the signing could be much sooner, in fact as soon as August 2012.
Morazan Update – There is a benefit for Morazan on December 10. Mier handed out benefit information to the board. The sister cities portion of the benefit is to raise funds to send hospital wheelchairs and beds that are being contributed to sister cities for use in Morazan. It will also hopefully raise funds to send more books down to Morazan. This benefit is in conjunction with a non-profit education organization in which Evelyn is involved to raise more funds for educational purposes in Morazan. That group has allowed sister cities to piggyback onto the benefit it has been planning for awhile. This hospital effort is not itemized on the list of activities agreed upon by sister cities and Morazan, but is a socially useful activity that the County Morazan Committee supports. After finishing this project the Committee intends to review its list of activities in Morazan and seek additional progress within that list.
Boris reported on Ukrainian developments. Ukraine representatives visited in September on an Open Door grant. It was a very successful visit in terms of the representatives learning more about the County and some of us learning more about Luhansk, Ukraine. But the County Ukrainian community has yet to coalesce and work to see this friendship become a partnership. Bruce and others stated that without a local Ukrainian community buy in, we cannot actively pursue a partnership with Luhansk. This is true because after Ethiopia, China will become a priority. Mier mentioned a lesser friendship agreement that sister cities uses, but the board for the future wanted to see more local Ukrainian participation in any effort be it partnership or friendship. Luhansk was originally scheduled to send more representatives to the County under a new Open Door grant in February of 2012, but Boris reported that the date has now been extended to October 2012.
China – Mier reported on his recent trip to China (self paid) under a national College Board program. The trip focused on education and the visitors were able to observe Chinese education in a number of schools in both Beijing and Te’en in the Shandong Province. Though neither of these places appears to be useful for sister city partnership purposes, the trip was very instructive for operating educational exchange programs with China. Lily Qi, former County Asian Liaison, has previously identified Tianjin and Suzhous as possible sister city partners for the County. A new Asian American liaison will be coming aboard in Bruce’s of Community Partnerships in January. The new person will assumedly work with the board and Lily (who remains interested but new works on special projects for Ike Leggett). Lily has stated that China is so large that it may be we partner with more than one city there.
Mary Kane – a local leader has become President and CEO of Sister Cities International. Theresa suggests that we find a way to work with her and benefit from a county resident heading the parent organization to which we belong. Mary was invited to the Ethiopian benefit and today’s meeting neither of which she was able to attend – but her enthusiasm for our organization is obvious in her communications with us.