In April of 1988, Mayor Tom Prather visited Tahara-cho as a prospective city for a sister city relationship because Toyota Motor Manufacturing Ken_tucky had branched out into Georgetown. In August of 1988, a Tahara-cho delegation including Mayor Yoshizo Shibata visited Georgetown. In 1989, both Georgetown City Council and Tahara Council adopted plans for a sister city affiliation. In 1990, official Sister City Agreement Signing Ceremonies took place in Tahara-cho (April 20) and Georgetown (May 29).

In 2000, Tahara/Georgetown sister cities celebrated their 10th anniversary with Commemorative Ceremonies held during September in each city. Co-chairs of the 10th anniversary were Mason (Butch) Glass and John Fitch.

Our community was honored to host the Kazan Watanabe Art Exhibit at Georgetown College and sent a Georgetown Historical Exhibit to Tahara.

Commitment was made at this time to establish a friendship garden at Cardome Community Center with basic structure and plantings to be in place by 2000. Today, this is known as the Yuko-En on the Elkhorn. This garden is a delight and has become the official Japanese Garden of Kentucky. It is a must see.

Our sister city program has included many activities during the past 18 years. Perhaps the most active has been the student exchange between Seisho High School and Scott County High School.

Other aspects include Regular City Officials exchange, Tahara City Council Overseas Study Tours, Scott County teachers, Georgetown College faculty exchanges, Georgetown College graduates as Assistant Language Teachers in Tahara, Georgetown College Foreign Students from Tahara, Kite Festival exchange and support, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn construction, Yuko-En corporate, construction and volunteer support, Habitat for Humanity volunteers and support, Alternative Agriculture Methods studies, Early Childhood Development Center studies, local fall festival attendance, conservation and environmental research, Elkhorn Creek/Shiokawa River restoration and protection, tourism impact, and personal friendships and lasting memories of participants, a sister quilters program, and sister library program.

What is a sister city program? I invite you to check out the book, "Peace Through People: 50 years of Global Citizenship" published by Sister Cities International. I believe their mission states it best: "To promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation - one individual, one community at a time." The book gives a great history of the program and verifies that officials from Toledo, Ohio and Toledo, Spain signed a twinning document in 1931 linking their communities. The first U.S.-Japan Sister City connection joined St. Paul, Minn. with Nagasaki.

Their relationship began Dec. 7, 1955, on the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. While touring in 1990, Mayor Jim Scheibel of St. Paul said, "It is important that we honor the memory of war victims, in our country as well as Japan. The best way to do that is to work to make sure that this kind of war and destruction never happen again.

That's what sister city relationships and people-to-people diplomacy are all about."

As a World War II general, President Dwight Eisenhower saw firsthand the devastation and ruin that war brought. As a president he had a gift for bringing together people of diverse backgrounds to plan and work for a common peaceful goal. He believed by becoming friends people of different cultures could appreciate their differences and work toward peace. In 1956, Eisenhower brought Americans together for a White House Conference on Citizen Diplomacy. He told people that, "Two deeply held convictions unite us in common purpose. First, is our belief in effective and responsive local government as a principal bulwark of freedom. Second, is our faith in the great promise of people-to-people and sister city affiliations in helping build the solid structure of world peace." This was the beginning.

On Sept. 10, a sister city delegation of six from Georgetown representing the Scott County Public Library, The Scott Education and Community Foundation and citizens-at-large began their 14-hour plane ride to Nagoya International Airport. I was honored to be part of this delegation representing our community. Our mission:

• To bring greetings from our mayor, city council and community.

• To lay groundwork for the 20th anniversary celebration of the Georgetown/Tahara sister city program.

• To establish a sister library program between the Scott County Public Library and the Tahara City Library.

• To bring together representatives of the sister quilt guilds.

• To experience the personal exchange of friendships that can improve world understanding and good will.

Mission accomplished. What an opportunity; what a life changing experience. Watch my column for details on these growing sister city relationships along with my personal account of the trip.

Earlene Arnett is director of the Scott County Public Library. Her column appears the first Wednesday of each month in the News-Graphic. She can be reached at earlene@scottpublib.org.

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