1. Who is Norman’s sister city?
Norman has four Sister Cities:
- Clermont-Ferrand, France (relationship started in 1987 and agreement signed in 1994)
- Colima, Mexico (relationship started in 1995 and agreement signed in 1997)
- Seika, Japan (relationship started in 1996 and agreement signed in 2005)
- Arezzo, Italy (agreement signed in 2011)
2. How long has City of Norman been involved in the program?
The partnership with Clermont-Ferrand, France, was the first and this October is the 25th anniversary of the Norman - Clermont-Ferrand agreement. Soon after the signing this partnership the Norman Society of International Affairs was founded in Norman.
3. What are benefits of being involved in the program?
The benefits enrich all of the cities and include student, faculty, research exchanges among the universities, and several collaborative programs between the cities headed by the respective Mayors. These have included delegations of the city traveling to partner cities, participation in international conferences, fine arts exchanges and more.
4. What is the City of Norman’s goal in being involved in the program?
Create connections with people from around the world that have different cultures. Learn about what other nations are doing, what kind of ideas they have. Enrich the lives of Norman residents.
5. Does this program allow for exchange students or professionals? If yes, can you please give an example?
Yes, both. Our sister city connections are chosen based on like size, geographic region, business and economic likeness and preferably a town with a University.
The University of Oklahoma and The University of Clermont Auvergne (previously was divided into two separate universities in Clermont-Ferrand: University Blaise Pascal and Auvergne University) have been involved in reciprocal student exchanges for summer, semester, or yearlong programs. Through these reciprocal exchanges the students have paid tuition in their own university and were waived tuition in the host institution. Students coming from the UCA have received scholarships from the City of Clermont-Ferrand based on the sister city relationship. There were also teacher/ student exchanges at the public school level between the two cities.
Over the years, there were multiple visits by mayors and their staffs from all the Sister Cities where ideas of city governance and administration were exchanged.
We also worked with the Norman Arts Council’s Cultural Connection program to exchange artists between Norman and Clermont Ferrand. More information on this can be found here: https://normanarts.org/cultural-connections
6. What would you say to another community that is considering becoming a part of this program?
The benefits of these partnerships allow citizens, in both nations, to celebrate differences and to validate the values both cities/countries live by and to learn from each other.
Any city that is interested should speak to Mayor Breea Clark and any of the liaisons or officers of the Norman Society of International Affairs (Passports group), to know that the mutual enrichment, in all academic and cultural areas, is one that no city should afford to miss.
7. Any other information that you think would be interesting for our other towns/cities to learn about your involvement with program?
There are a number of sister city relationships in Oklahoma (some in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Stillwater) besides Norman. I would think that wherever a person lives would want to expand his/her vision of our world beyond our own. We live in an interdependent world and so the more we learn about others the more we prepare ourselves and our children to be effective in a multicultural world, safer world.
The international connections that have been created between Norman and other cities in the world have had a significant positive influence on Norman in becoming an engaged global community.
(Note: The Norman Sister’s Cities program is sponsored by the Norman Society of International Affairs, which was founded in 1994. Many of the activities initiated by the organization’s founders were begun much earlier.)