Saturday, October 24, 2015

French Delegation Visits Apalachicola

A group of ten French Delegates from Noirmoutier, France, part of Sister
Cities International visits with Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson

This past week a group of French delegates, from Noirmoutier, an Island off the west coast of France, together with a group of residents from Crestview, Florida, stopped over in Apalachicola while visiting the Forgotten Coast as part of the Sister City International Program founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

Audrey Harel, International Relations Officer and Interpreter
with the University of Nantes pictured with Mayor Van Johnson 

The Sister City International Program is a nonpartisan, 501(c) (3), nonprofit that was envisioned by Eisenhower to become a hub of peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world.  By forming these relationships, President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could become citizen diplomats to build partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts.

Rene' Relandeau, President of Norimoutier Sister Cities Program
pictured with Mayor Van Johnson

Since its inception the program has united tens of thousands of citizens and volunteers in 545 communities with over 2,100 partnerships in 145 countries on six continents. Both the City of Crestview and Noirmoutier are partnered together in the program where they exchange visits, students, education, cultures and ideas. 

All together 22 students and 12 adults from France are visiting Crestview, their sister city through October 30th as part of the program and are expected to pump more then $30,000 into the Crestview economy during their stay, according to Brain Hughes, President of the Crestview Area Sister Cities Program. 

L-R: Brain Hughes, President of Crestview Area Sister Cities Program and
reporter for the Northwest Florida Daily News, Harel, Relandeau and Johnson

Thanks to a timely heads-up from local resident Olivier Monod; Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson had an opportunity to extend the group an invitation to visit yesterday with the mayor before their noon departure to Panama City.

During their visit, Mayor Johnson, accompanied by Joe Taylor, Executive Director of Franklin's Promise Coalition were able to discuss through the groups interpreter, Audrey Harel, with the University of Nantes, in Nantes, France, the possibility of establishing a Cross-Border relationship between the City of Apalachicola, Florida and Noirmoutier, France to foster economic opportunities for both communities.