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Carrboro Flirts With Sister City Idea

At Tuesday's aldermen meeting, officials weighed the option of making Juventino Rosas the official sister city of Carrboro. The discussion was prompted by Alderman John Herrera, who could not be reached for comment.

"It's a fairly long process," said Alderman Diana McDuffee. "The discussion is just to gauge the interest in establishing a sister city. I'm in favor of a sister city relationship. Especially with our Hispanic population, it would make sense to look for one in Mexico."

Instead of voting on the proposal, the aldermen asked Herrera to create a document containing all the details and regulations such a move would entail. The proposal will be considered at a later meeting.

McDuffee also said that while it might be a good idea, community involvement is a necessary part of the process and is vital for success.

"(Chapel Hill) established a sister city in Nicaragua in 1998," McDuffee said. "It's a huge deal, and we can't bind our future boards into keeping this relationship. Before the local government gets involved, we need to see if there is a community that is very interested."

Alderman Joal Broun said funding problems also might become a barrier for the project to overcome.

"We will still be interested in the project as long as it doesn't have adverse financial effects," she said.

This is not the first time a sisterhood possibility has been brought up in local towns. In addition to the 1998 Nicaraguan project, which McDuffee said folded because of a lack of support, Chapel Hill currently is participating in a sister city project with Saratov, Russia.

Durham -- San Ramon Sister Communities is another sisterhood in the area that was created in 1993 after the Contra War in Nicaragua ended.

Lonna Harkrader, president of the communities, said it takes a great amount of effort to establish a sisterhood.

"It takes a steady amount of work," Harkrader said. "Communication is especially vital. E-mail has boosted our efforts tenfold."

One of the results of the Durham - San Ramon organization has been the creation of a nonprofit tourism corporation that plans cultural immersion trips to San Ramon, with most of the proceeds staying there.

Harkrader added that the time involved in setting up a cultural interchange is well worth it.

"It's a meaningful relationship," Harkrader said. "Making friends from another country and developing wonderful ties has been incredible.

"The advantage for Americans is that we get to be connected to people in a foreign culture. We wanted a cultural exchange that is helping our country become a stronger democracy."

While McDuffee said there is interest in the program, she would like to see better organization.

"I think (the support) is there, but it needs to be developed. I would encourage community groups to assess the interest in sustaining this relationship."

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