By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
MINNEAPOLIS (July 15, 2012) — Songs of Hope Children’s choir opened the 5th Annual Sister City celebration attended by nearly 1,000 persons.
According to the choir director the choir’s focus is to “Learn about one another’s cultures and build bridges.” They have been practicing since June 15th. Aside from local performances, they will perform in cities throughout greater Minnesota including: Windom, Winona, and Chatfield.
Songs of Hope performed a number of songs from such countries as China, Colombia, Israel, and Iraq. Many of the songs had messages focusing on peace and unity. The group was introduced by Kathy McKay, Executive Director of Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project. Naraj, Iraq is Minneapolis’ newest Sister City.
Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project with the assistance of Target Corporation volunteers were in charge of this year’s children’s activity tent. Some of the activities: writing a letter to Iraqi child cancer patients, temporary tattoos, video messages to Iraqi children as well as a variety of arts & crafts activities.
Barb Johnson, Minneapolis City Council Chair filling in for Mayor R. T. Rybak welcomed guests stating, “ What Minneapolis values so much is our Sister City relationships throughout the world.”
According to Johnson Minneapolis received an award at the 56th Annual International Sister City Conference held yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida for its work with its Kenyan sister city, Eldoret. Minneapolis is preparing to send its 2nd fire truck to the community. In addition to the fire truck donation firefighters went down to train the Kenyans on how to use the truck.
The Sister Cities for Minneapolis are Harbin – China, Najaf -Iraq, Tours – France, Uppsala – Sweden, Santiago – Chile, Novosibirsk, Russia, Ibaraki – Japan, Kuopio – Finland and Cuernavaca – Mexico.
This year marks 20th year anniversary of Minneapolis’ Sister City relationship with Harbin, China, a delegation of officials from Harbin including its Mayor are visiting for the week to take part in the Aquatennial Parade as well as other commitments.
Highlighting the 20th anniversary of their relationship there were several performances from Chinese performers. Others cultures performing at today’s event included: Sweden, Mexico, and Japan. Each of the cities also had booths for attendees to visit and learn more about the various communities.
There were performers who performed in traditional attire including Chinese opera singer Huang Mei Chinese Opera performer – Maggie Zhang.
For more information of the Sister City program: www.minneapolis.org/partners-amp-community/sistercities.