The Vernon Sister Cities Committee is inviting local residents on an adventure of a lifetime. With the help of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the group is organizing a tour to India including a sunset visit to the Taj Mahal, rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk and a jungle safari at Ranthambore.
Another highlight of the trip will be touring the Golden Temple district of Vernon’s Sister City, Anandpur Sahib. Known as the “Holy City of Bliss,” Anandpur Sahib lies nestled in the lower regions of the Himalaya and is considered one of the most sacred places of the Sikh religion. Vernon’s newest Sister City, it was adopted in 2012 with the help of committee member Hardev Aujla. Because of this special relationship, participants on the tour will be treated to the unique cultural experience of a dinner with local dignitaries and residents.
This will be the third joint venture organized by the Vernon Sister Cities Committee with the help of Carlson Wagonlit.
Tom Ouchi, chairman of Vernon’s Sister Cities Committee, says Vernon has had sister cities since first adopting Modesto, Calif. in 1982. Since then, five more cities have been adopted including Tome, Japan; Tavulia, Italy, Frankenburg AH, Austria; St. Lambert, Quebec; and Anandpur Sahib.
In 2008, then Mayor Wayne Lippert led a group of 35 citizens from the Vernon area to Tome on an official visit to foster the friendship between our two communities and to experience the Japanese way of life. In subsequent years groups of Tome students have visited Vernon hosted by families from Kalamalka Secondary School. For some, these experiences and friendships can last a lifetime.
In September of 2014, a group of 30 local residents visited our Italian sister city of Tavullia, endorsed by City Council in 1993. Participants were warmly welcomed, as Tavulia is the site of a war memorial to Canadian regiments, including the BC Dragoons, who were instrumental in breaking the Gothic Line, Germany’s last major line of defence in the final stages of the Second World War.
This tour also included a visit to the picturesque village of Frankenburg, AH, Austria, which was adopted as a Sister City in 2008. The village of 5,000 hosted a dinner, and local tours and participants were able to learn of its colourful history as the site of the Frankenburg Dice Game or “Wuerfelspiel.” In 1625, Lutheran peasants revolted against the local landowner’s imposition of Catholicism. The villain landowner broke his promise of amnesty, arresting town leaders and forcing them to gamble with dice for their lives. A reenactment of the event has been held every year since 1925 at what is claimed to be Europe’s largest open-air theatre. Look on the Frankenburg AH website and you will see our Vernon logo proudly displayed.
Modesto, Calif. has had such a long relationship with Vernon that a Modesto subcommittee has organized numerous cultural exchanges with the community and Modesto has sent participants to Funtastic and participated in Vernon Winter Carnival. Chairman John Topping says that because of these exchanges many Vernon citizens maintain long-term relationships with people from Modesto.
According to Ouchi, it is important to note that all planned tours are paid for by the individual participants. These are unique travel experiences because they provide the opportunity to travel with and make local friends, build new relationships and have up-front and personal experiences with citizens from another culture.
People love to go because it is fun to travel with other locals, learn about and meet others from our Sister Cities.
But visits to Sister Cities don’t have to be large group official tours, according to Ouchi.
“If someone is travelling near one of our Sister Cities, we hope they would be interested in visiting and perhaps even meeting fellow citizens with mutual interests.”
According to Sister Cities International, Sister City relationships help form connections between communities that are mutually beneficial and address issues that are most relevant for partners including municipal, business, trade, educational and cultural exchanges. It is hoped that Sister City organizations also promote peace through people-to-people relationships and programs that may range from basic cultural exchanges to shared research and development projects.
For more information about the Sister Cities adventure to India, residents can contact Carlson Wagonlit at 250-558-1010.
You can find out more about Vernon’s Sister Cities from these sites:
www.sikhtourism.com/anandpur-sahib.htm or www.frankenburg.info