Rockville will host a delegation from Jiaxing, China next week as the latest step on the path to a new sister cities relationship.
Residents have an opportunity to welcome the visitors at a “friendship dinner” on Nov. 2.
The Nov. 2-4 visit is part of efforts to develop a sister city relationship with the city of 4.5 million people on the Yangtze River delta in southeast China.
On Nov. 3, the Chinese delegation will attend the Rockville Summit at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, followed by a ceremony dedicating a friendship garden at Glenview Mansion. The garden will include a plaque and peonies—which are widely regarded as China’s unofficial national flower. The delegation also will meet with Rockville’s mayor and City Council.
The Rockville City Council approved the launch of the process towards a sister cities relationship with Jiaxing in 2008.
It is a relationship founded on common ground.
“Like Rockville, Jiaxing strives to preserve its history, is an environmentally conscious community and is developing its high tech industry,” according to a City of Rockville news release.
The two cities signed a “Friendly Relations Agreement” in July 2009. Since then the cities have engaged in cultural exchanges designed to foster economic relations.
Rockville City Councilman Mark Pierzchala traveled to Jiaxing in June where he attended a conference on cultural heritage and preservation.
The focus of the conference was "developing with all sectors together," Pierzchala said. "How do you move forward with everybody on board?"
The first Rockville Summit, held in October 2011, took a similar cross-sector approach to Rockville's economic future. November's "Summit II" will be “our take on that very issue," Pierzchala said. "So that’s why we invited them to come at that time.”
Sister Cities International facilitates sister city agreements between American cities and cities around the world. The nonprofit diplomatic organization was founded in 1956 by the Eisenhower administration to promote peace through cooperation and understanding between cities around the world.
The nonprofit Rockville Sister City Corporation plans and supports exchanges between Rockville and Pinneberg, Germany—Rockville's first sister city. That relationship, which began in 1957, continued this summer with a visit to Pinneberg by Rockville performance troupe The Finest!
“The Rockville Sister City Corporation is very interested [in Jiaxing as a sister city] and has a long history of developing and maintaining cultural exchanges,” said Jon McLaren, a community recreation manager with the city’s Recreation and Parks Department and the city’s staff liaison to the Rockville Sister City Corporation.
The relationship with Jiaxing, will "progress on its own timeframe,” Pierzchala said. “I don’t think there’s any schedule.”
Delegations will likely visit every two years, Pierzchala said.
“We've got to get to know each other, build a relationship and sustain it over time," he said.
Dinner tickets are $50 and cover the cost of the dinner and costs to host the Chinese delegation for the weekend, McLaren said. RSCC, city staff and the business community, including Rockville Economic Development Inc. and the Rockville Chamber of Commerce have also solicited donations to cover the cost of the weekend, he said.
Tickets to the Nov. 2 dinner at VisArts can be purchased for $50 through Friday at Rockville City Hall. Sponsorship opportunities are available starting at $250. All sponsors receive recognition at the dinner and their name in the sponsor's packet.
For more information call Jon McLaren at 240-314-8625.