Ann Arbor residents make trip to German sister city
By SUSAN OPPAT
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Tuebingen, Germany, will welcome a dozen representatives from its sister city of Ann Arbor next week, marking the 30th year of the exchange program.
Ten people, part of a 12-member delegation of Ann Arbor residents, are leaving for Germany today, flying to Frankfurt and heading to Tuebingen on Sept. 19.
The two other members of the group, Mayor Ingrid Sheldon and her husband, Cliff, will join the delegation in Tuebingen.
The histories of the cities are vastly different.
The German city was first mentioned in a written document more than 900 years ago, built up with monasteries and castles. It became the hometown of counts and dukes.
Ann Arbor was founded less than 200 years ago by farmers looking for land.
But the two cities are linked.
After all, Ann Arbor was founded by Americans of German descent, and both cities house major universities, which can cause some flareups between town and gown. In fact, student unrest has been a way of life in Tuebingen since 1816.
Ann Arbor is a multi-cultural town year-round, but it seems city residents go out of their way to make personal connections with other cultures.
Besides Tuebingen, Ann Arbor has established ties with sister cities in Nicaragua, Japan and Canada.
Local residents have long made group visits to Tuebingen. About 125-150 local ambassadors have visited Tuebingen six times since 1965, and members of a high school German club and orchestra make the trip as often as every other year.
Delegations and students stay with families in Tuebingen, and families from Ann Arbor reciprocate, inviting Tuebingen residents to stay with them.
This year, only three days of the 17-day excursion will be spent in Tuebingen.
Besides Frankfurt, the local delegates also will cruise on the Rhine, visit the Linderhof Castle, the spa town of Baden-Baden, the Alpine Road, Munich, a monastery and be on hand for the the opening day of Oktoberfest. For an additional $900, delegation members can jaunt over to Prague, in the Czech Republic, and Budapest, Hungary.
While the delegation is in Tuebingen, the mayors of the two cities will exchange flags and gifts, including pieces of art created in both cities, Chesbrough says.
Chesbrough, a retired teacher, has used what she has seen in her social studies classes. But the point of a trip like this, she says, goes much deeper.
What this relationship is really about, she says, is “the exchange of cultures and ideas with which we can build an awareness of a wider society.”