gmhTODAY 13 gmhToday March April 2017 - Page 86

Morgan Hill Sister Cities Ireland Tunc Soyer, Mayor of Seferihisar, Turkey (center), hosted Morgan Hill Sister Cities delegates Einar and Karen Anderson, Victoria Escuton, Dennis Kennedy, Nuzhat Alavi, Bernie Mulligan, Marilyn Librers and Jill Kirk in 2013. The two cities were officially twinned in 2014. For more than a decade, Morgan Hill has deepened its sisterly bond with Headford, Ireland. To celebrate the ten- year anniversary, delegates traveled to Headford where they were greeted by a large Irish contingent. Headford is located in County Galway (their government seat) in western Ireland. It is an agrarian community and, as with Ireland in general, its people are known for their hospitality to visitors. Archaeological sites, from burial cairns to castles, date back to the Norman Conquest and earlier to the Iron Age. “We have visited Headford regularly,” Kirk said, “and both county officials and private citizens have welcomed us warmly. One couple, the Monaghans, have visited Morgan Hill on several occasions. On their last visit, they brought an ensemble of Irish dancers and musicians to entertain our citizens. It was an amazing experience.” “In 2015, a Morgan Hill couple by the name of Chris and Mike Sullivan read about our connection with Headford and decided to stop there while touring Ireland. They were welcomed so warmly by our friends there and enjoyed the experience so much they extended their stay.” Japan Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate and Mizuho-machi Japan Mayor Ishizuka exchanged gifts at an outdoor celebration in July of 2016. Below: Taiko drum musicians entertained guests. Mizuho-Morgan Hill Student Exchange In 2015, Cindy van Rhijn and Mary Wakatsuki became co-chairs for the Morgan Hill-Mizuho Student Exchange, a program that originated with Morgan Hill Sister Cities and continues to evolve, under the Morgan Hill Community Foundation umbrella, in partnership with the Morgan Hill Unified School District (MHUSD). Every year, Morgan Hill and Mizuho alternate between hosting and sending exchange students and chaperones to each other’s cities to stay in the homes of local families. MHUSD middle school students and their families will host students from Mizuho this summer, and then travel to Mizuho next year. According to van Rhijn, “MHUSD students commit to an 18-month program that includes learning Japanese language basics, preparing to host their Japanese guests, fundraising toward their trip costs, and making presentations in Mizuho. They learn to be ambassadors of good will, at home and away from home. Every student has that “aha moment” when they discover people are different and yet the same underneath. It opens their minds.” Local Landmarks Morgan Hill Sister Cities Meet Fourth Thursday of each month at 7 pm Morgan Hill Centennial Recreation Center Edmundson Avenue, Room 1 Membership: $25.00 per year morganhillsistercities.com. 86 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Morgan Hill’s sister cities are commemorated at the Morgan Hill Civic Center, where their names are etched in concrete. In the coming months, the City also plans to install in the Civic Center plaza, a signpost with directional signs pointing toward each sister city. “We’ve been treated so well by the people of our sister cities,” Mulligan said, “I’d like to think that Morgan Hill will continue to offer its hospitality to them in the future. We welcome local families to join Morgan Hill Sister Cities and travel with us, and to encourage their kids to get involved in a student exchange program.” MARCH/APRIL 2017 gmhtoday.com