(Ashland, Ore.) — Delegations from Guanajuato, Mexico, and the Universidad de Guanajuato will visit Ashland and Southern Oregon University in April to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their sister city and sister university relationships.
The celebration will include a formal renewal of the partnerships between the cities and universities, and is seen as an opportunity to recommit to the ideals that inspired the relationships in 1969.
“I hope each of us will see this 50-year anniversary as a waypoint at which we can pause, reassess and re-energize before continuing our journey together,” SOU President Linda Schott said in a statement to celebration participants. “Let’s contemplate the future, how our partnership relates to our changing world and what steps we should consider to keep our efforts fresh and relevant.”
On the university side, the multi-day celebration will be highlighted by an invitation-only reception and “gala concert” at the SOU Music Recital Hall on the evening of Tuesday, April 9. The concert will feature four new commissioned works from faculty at Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU, along with a composition by Javier Gonzalez Compean from Guanajuato.
Other university events involving the delegation from Guanajuato include breakfast, ceremonial re-signing of the sister university memorandum of understanding and an SOU campus tour on Monday, April 8. Universidad de Guanajuato Rector Luis Felipe Guerrero Agripino, who has a particular interest in crime prevention, will meet with faculty from SOU’s psychology and criminology departments.
Activities on Wednesday, April 10, include professional development opportunities for SOU faculty and members of the Guanajuato delegation, on the topics of transforming teaching and becoming universities for the future. There will also be an event at the International Peace Flame at SOU’s Thalden Pavilion.
The cooperative link between the two cities and the two universities is unique. Guanajuato is closer in size to Eugene than to Ashland, and Universidad de Guanajuato – which is larger than any university in Oregon – has sister university relationships with more than 300 other institutions worldwide.
But the Ashland-Guanajuato relationships – between both the cities and universities – were the first for each entity. More than 1,000 students, faculty members and others have participated in exchange programs and some families have been involved for three generations. More than 80 marriages have united partners from Ashland and Guanajuato.
In addition to the university activities, Guanajuato business, city government and community representatives will have the opportunity to explore and experience various elements and amenities of Ashland. Delegates from the Mexican city will see a performance of “Hairspray” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and will celebrate the relationship with breakfasts, lunches and dinners hosted by churches, local organizations and service clubs.
The Ashland Chamber & Travel Ashland is sponsoring events at venues including the Ashland Art Center, ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, Thalden Pavilion, Brickroom, Irvine & Roberts Vineyards and Mt. Ashland. The events will showcase Ashland’s economy and amenities, and some of the themes that unite Ashland and Guanajuato.
The City of Ashland has planned specific events and tours for Guanajuato’s official city delegation. The Amigo Club, a key partner in the friendship, is coordinating volunteer host families and has a large role in planning for the visit.
“Whenever I consider the sister city relationship between Ashland and Guanajuato, it warms my heart to think of all the friendships that have been built over the years,” said Sandra Slattery, executive director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce. “Of course, the educational student exchange was the cornerstone for the creation of the relationship, but it truly expanded through the 50 years with the ‘people-to-people’ connections that were formed … even marriages!
“It’s been an honor, as the Chamber, to be coordinating and facilitating the steering committee for the celebration welcoming over 50 Guanajuato citizens to Ashland. May we welcome them with open arms as we work for future strengthened relationships and new partnerships to create peace and friendship in our world.”
Delegations from the city of Ashland and SOU will also participate in 50th anniversary festivities in Guanajuato from May 27 to 31.
The celebration will stretch into the summer as Ashland observes the anniversary as the theme for its 4th of July parade.
Individuals, businesses and organizations who have worked together on the celebration include the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, City of Ashland, Southern Oregon University, Amigo Club of Ashland, Ashland Art Center, Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, Ashland Fire & Rescue, Ashland Parks & Recreation, Ashland Police Department, Ashland School District, Ashland Springs Hotel, Barbara Tricarico, Brickroom, El Tapatio, Gathering Glass Studio, Grizzly Peak Winery, host families, Irvine & Roberts Vineyards, Karen & Allen Drescher, La Clinica, Lloyd M. Haines, Martolli’s Restaurant, Mt. Ashland, Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church, Platt Anderson Cellars, Rogue Valley Peace Choir, Rogue Valley Roasting Co., Rotary Clubs of Ashland, ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum, Southern Oregon Printing, Temple Emek Shalom, Travel Ashland and Weisinger Family Winery.