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HISTORY OF THE SISTER CITIES ASSOC IATION OF VOLUSIA COUNTY, INC.

by Founding Person Betty Nelson.

 

 OUTREACH TO RUSSIA, 1993

PARTNERING WITH CAMPECHE, 1995

 The Sister Cities Association of Volusia County, Inc. was incorporated as a not for profit organization on November 29, 1993, through the efforts of member, and later president, attorney Michael O’Neill. Its stated purpose was “to promote international friendship, understanding, and cooperation between the people of Volusia County, their cultural, educational, religious, economic, and professional communities and organizations, and the people, their corresponding communities and organizations of associated sister cities.”

 The initial project of the steering committee was to develop a partnership with a city in Russia, out of concern for the worsening social and economic situation of the Russian people, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, in the conviction that there was a broad interest in Russia in our community, and a readiness to reach out in friendship. We were aware of a sizeable Russian-American element in our area. A large group of local citizenry had just returned from a visit in Russia, through a tour sponsored by the Museum of Arts and Sciences. The Russian Studies program at Stetson University was promoting awareness of current  cultural and political events in Russia. The time seemed ripe for taking action. The members of the Russian Studies staff were naturally very supportive of our plan. They met with our steering committee and together we decided to reach out to the city of Astrakhan, in the delta of the Volga River, where it empties into the Caspian Sea. It was not affiliated with any other U.S. city, and its rich and ancient history—it was the seat of the Mongol Empire of the Golden Horde from the 1460s--made it very attractive to us, and also its bordering on a sea gave the two regions something in common.

 Through the help of Russian specialists at the headquarters of Sister Cities International (SCI) in Washington, D.C., as well as our Stetson University colleagues, in particular Dr. Gene Husky and Dr. Guy Houck, we tried to make contact with the political officers in Astrakhan, by telephone, by fax, by mail. On Dec. 3, 1993, we sent a large packet of materials—to SCI for transmission to Astrakhan--which would give them a profile of our region—its governmental organization, its industry and agriculture, its educational, medical, legal, and cultural institutions. Included were letters from Mr. Robert Tuttle, Chairman of the Volusia County Council, letters from our members, as well as newspapers, maps, catalogs of our colleges and universities, brochures of various organizations, materials supplied by chambers of commerce, etc.

 Letter from V.P. Sherbakov, Mayor of the City of Astrakhan, October 5, 1994. After an interminable wait and many efforts of our Stetson friends and SCI headquarters people to get through to Astrakhan, Professor Guy Houck received a fax, dated October 5, 1994, from V.P. Sherbakov, Mayor of the City of Astrakhan, thanking him “for your attention to us,” but explaining that they had not received any of the materials which he had mentioned. “This is all the more frustrating, since the type of activities which you suggest have stimulated on our part a lively interest and readiness for cooperation. We will be happy if this contact is continued, and we can take real steps toward collaborative work in all of the areas you have cited.” In their October 18, 1994, faxed response to this message, Marsha Lewis and Elizabeth Nelson, as co-chairmen, stated “We would like to send a group as soon as it would be convenient for you to receive them,” suggesting mid-December, as being convenient for Professor Houck, who would be free from his University work then. “In our delegation we would try to include persons in government, education, business, agriculture, science, the arts, medicine and law.” We assured them that we would expect to assume all the costs of our accommodations. And stated that we would want to make plans with our hosts for their sending a delegation to visit us, “as well as to discuss possible arrangements for future exchanges of students, teachers, artists, etc….We feel that through our community relations networks we will be able to raise money here to finance or help finance transportation costs for your people and also to arrange accommodations for them.”

 We never received an answer to this fax. Though our contacts at SCI and at Stetson continued to try to reach Mayor Sherbakov, nothing came of these efforts. We finally had to assume that the economic and political situation in Astrakhan was so unstable, that the people in charge were quite unable to enter into any sort of agreement with us. As we came to learn, the pollution of the Volga by all of the industries ranged along its banks, pretty effectively poisoned the river by the time it reach the delta, almost destroying the fishing industry, the economic mainstay of the region.. Extremely complicating the politics were the rival claims of the new states on the banks of the Caspian Sea to the fishing rights for the great caviar-producing sturgeon, even though the species was greatly endangered at this point, from the pollution pouring into the sea.

 PARTNERING WITH CAMPECHE, CAMPECHE, MEXICO, 1995

 DBCC Trade Mission to Campeche, February 1 to 5, 1995.  Eight members of the Sister Cities Association joined with representatives from Daytona Beach Community College (DBCC) on a Trade Mission to Campeche, Mexico, in February, 1995. The group was under the direction of Francisco Bertot, Director of the Center for International Business Exchanges (CIBE) at the College. The purpose of the visit was to explore the possibilities for business and cultural exchanges between our two regions. The group was held to a busy schedule of meetings in Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen, with the mayors and their staffs, as well as with administrators and faculties of their universities, business leaders, and the governor of the State. Our eighteen-person delegation was everywhere received with the greatest cordiality and expressions of strong interest in the formation of formal ties with Daytona Beach and Volusia County. Gwen Azama-Edwards, City Clerk of Daytona Beach and a prominent member of our delegation, presented keys to the City of Daytona Beach to the mayors and college and community leaders, in expression of our appreciation for the courtesies and kindnesses extended.

 On their return the Sister Cities members  approached the Volusia County Council to report on these very promising developments and to recommend that a sister relationship with Campeche be formed. This was met with unanimous approval. An invitation, dated March 2, 1995, “to the government and people of Campeche, Mexico, to establish a Sister City relationship for the purpose of creating greater mutual understanding between the citizens of these communities,” was signed by all Council members, who, in the same document, proclaimed March 2, 1995, as “Sister Cities Day.” Freddye C. Moore, Chairman of the Council, communicated this invitation in a letter dated March 6 to Lic. Antonio Gonzales Curi, El Presidente Municipal de Campeche.

 The Gulf Governors Conference, in Campeche, June, 1995. While plans for the visit of a delegation from Campeche to our shores were being developed, the city of Campeche, in early June, 1995, was host to governors and other representatives from all the U.S. and Mexican Gulf states—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tamaulipas, Tabasco, Veracruz, Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo. The purpose of the gathering was to form the Gulf of Mexico States Accord, in order to promote cooperation, exchanges and linkages in a variety of areas, including economic development, culture, education, tourism, transportation and infrastructure. DBCC was selected to coordinate educational programs between the countries. DBCC quickly followed up on this, through the organizational efforts of Francisco Bertot, by arranging for Daytona Beach to be the host city for the First Annual Education and Tourism Conference of the Gulf Governors’ Accord, September 27 to Oct. 1, 1995. This presented the perfect opportunity for the Campeche delegation to meet with our Sister Cities members to discuss plans and goals in forming a sister relationship.

 “Protocol of Agreement” Between Campeche and Volusia County, September 29, 1995. The partnering of our two communities was formalized at a banquet at the Adams Mark hotel, on Sept. 29. A “Protocol of Agreement” was signed by our chief elected officials, Lic. Antonio Gonzalez Curi, Municipal President of Campeche, and Ms. Freddye Moore, Chairman of the Volusia County Council. The agreement was written in both Spanish and English, the documents to be framed side by side and displayed in government offices of both communities. Gifts were exchanged. Ms. Moore presented to President Gonzalez a handsomely framed print of a Florida manatee, by Barry Barnet; and received from him beautiful wood carvings and other artifacts, as well as a display of brilliantly decorated costumes expressive of the culture of Campeche.

 In the few days our visitors were with us, there was an outpouring of good will on the part of community organizations and individuals. They were guests of the Chamber of Commerce of the Daytona/Halifax Area, of the International Speedway, of the Museum of Arts and Sciences, of the Volusia Chapter of the United Nations, and all of the area’s colleges: a formal dinner at Stetson University, given by President and Mrs. Douglas Lee at their home; a luncheon and tour of the aviation research facilities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; a breakfast and tour of the new Mary McLeod Bethune Fine Arts Center at Bethune-Cookman College; a tour and reception at Daytona Beach Community College. In the foyer of the Southeast Museum of Photography, where the reception was held, were displayed watercolor paintings of Campeche scenes by artist Mary Anne James, who had visited Campeche in February, 1995, with the Volusia Sister Cities delegation.

HURRICANES OPAL AND ROXANNE STRIKE CAMPECHE, OCT. 1995

 THE SISTER CITIES RELIEF EFFORT

GWEN AZAMA-EDWARDS PRESIDENCY, FEB. 1996 TO FEB. 1997

EDUCATIONAL ECO-TOUR OF CAMPECHE

MARCH 2 TO 9

OUR FIRST HIGH SCHOOL EXCHANGE PROGRAM

BEGINS AUGUST 1996

As winds began to whip up in the Gulf of Mexico region, our Mexican friends cut their visit in Daytona short and hurried back to their threatened communities, some in their private jets, some held up at airports when their flights were cancelled. Our Campeche delegation was flown home in Governor Jorge Solomon Azar Garcia’s plane. The entire Gulf coast was devastated by fiercely lashing winds and flooding. Over 100,000 people were left homeless, crops were ruined, highways and roads were washed out or broken by rock and mudslides. Following Opal’s attack, Roxanne hovered for about two weeks in the Gulf, swirling around unpredictably, with two direct assaults on Campeche. In Campeche, the governor’s office reported 85 percent of the corn crop and 83 percent of the chili pepper crop ruined, and about 1, 600 head of cattle drowned. Dr. Jose Lomeli Ramirez, Director of the Dr. Manuel Campos Hospital (and a member of the delegation which had visited Daytona Beach) reported that cases of cholera and of trauma were on the increase. Lic. Jose Aranda Alpuche (who had also been a member of the Campeche delegation to our city) kept us informed of the details of the suffering of the people, particularly in the rural areas, and forwarded to us photos of the devastation.

Our Sister Cities members, determined to mount a relief effort, sent out press releases concerning the damages our new sister community had suffered and appealing for money and supplies, such as tents, blankets, sheets, towels, and light-weight clothing. Collection bins were located in all Publix stores and some fire stations. Hospitals, medical societies, pharmacies, and local manufacturers of medical devices were contacted. We were aided in publicizing our appeals by the reports in particular of Cindi Brownfield and Lawrence Bennett of the News-Journal and Blake Fontenay of the Orlando Sentinel. Medical supplies were donated by Halifax Medical Center; Memorial Medical Systems, both Ormond Beach and West Volusia hospitals; Daytona Medical Center; and area physicians and pharmacists.

Shipping the materials to Campeche posed a problem, which was solved in part by the generosity of some residents of Spruce Creek Fly-In. One of these, Dr. Seymour Weiner,  organized a group of pilots to fly out the medical supplies. Early on the morning of Nov. 8 a flotilla of four small planes, loaded with about 1800 pounds of supplies, headed over the Gulf to Campeche. They were received at the Campeche International Airport by Governor Salomon Azar Garcia, Mayor Antonio Gonzalez Curi, and other dignitaries. Customs and other red tape were waived through the efforts of Consul Martin Torres of the Mexican Consulate in Orlando. As soon as the planes were unloaded the pilots had to turn back, for they wanted to complete their mission before darkness set in over the Gulf—to the chagrin of their hosts who had planned a fine luncheon for them. Before the planes returned to Spruce Creek, we received a fax from Dr. Jose Lomeli, expressing his gratitude. “You can’t imagine how grateful we are!!! It really touches my heart, to see that all of you care for us….Please thank everyone in Daytona on behalf of Campeche’s people.”

The rest of the supplies collected, 97 cartons weighing 2592 pounds, were flown on a Delta flight to Mexico City, thence transferred to Campeche. The donations of money enabled us to pay for this shipment, and the balance remaining, $610, was sent by check to the Secretary of Health for Campeche to be used for any public health need. A considerable amount of canned food had been donated. It was determined that shipment of this was too costly, and it was therefore given to the Salvation Army. The command centers for the handling of these donations were Nancy and Betty Nelson’s garage and Ellen and Jim O’Shaughnessy’s enormous dining room table. After the sorting, laundering in some cases, folding and packaging of all this material, the O’Shaughnessy’s finally were able to enjoy a family dinner again, and the Nelsons could shelter their cars.

February, 1996, ended the period of leadership first by Marsha Lewis and Betty Nelson, as co-chairs of the prolonged and ultimately abortive effort to partner with Astrakhan, although it had the success of building a considerable amount of interest in and support for the sister Cities programs and goals; and second the leadership of Betty Nelson as president during the establishment of the Campeche/Volusia partnership, and the management of the relief effort for Campeche when the state was stricken by hurricanes. Gwen Azama-Edwards took over the leadership as we commenced our first post-hurricane exchanges with our new sister city. Our files of correspondence and of newspaper clippings, as well as our newsletters, provide details of activities during those periods.

GWEN AZAMA-EDWARDS PRESIDENCY, FEB. 1996 TO FEB. 1997

An On-Going Activity: the collection of medical books, journals, and audio and video tapes for the new Dr. Manuel Campos Hospital in Campeche. These continued to be gathered from area physicians and the medical library of the Halifax Medical Center, Daytona Beach, through the good offices of the librarians Adajean Wallace and Simone Bonheur, who had met Dr. Jose Lomeli when he was given a tour of the hospital during the visit of the Campeche delegation in late September, 1995. Since shipping the books is so costly, our strategy was to ask any people who were planning to travel  to Campeche, and who were strong enough and willing, to carry boxes of these books. Rarely did any of us go to Campeche, at least in those early days, without helping out with this.

An Educational Eco-Tour of Campeche, March 2 to 9. This tour, sponsored by Sister Cities, was facilitated by our Campechano friend Oceanographer Alejandro Marin Vasquez, who has major ecological interests and held a prominent position in the Office of Tourism. His own office was in one of the old forts, the Baluarte de Santiago, which contained within it charming and extensive botanical gardens. Highlights of the tour which he had organized for us were the visit to the ancient Mayan center, Edzna, an hour’s drive from Campeche, with its grand major edifice, the building with the five stories—we had the place all to ourselves, since it had not yet been developed as a tourist site; a welcome dinner that evening at the elegant restaurant La Pigua; a visit at “Blanca Flor,” an old colonial hacienda; and at sites of artisans’ activities in ceramics and weaving; an excursion to the south of the state to visit the archeological sites of Chicanna, Becan, and Xpujii; and finally, the most awesome of all, the remains of a Mayan city which once had a population of 50,000, in the Calakmul Biosphere Preserve (the largest preserve in Mexico); overnight stay there at the fabulous Ramada Eco-Village at Chicanna, a very handsome modern complex utilizing ecological principles in its structures and setting. Back in Campeche, some leisure time was allowed for exploring the city itself, with its a charming old colonial ambience, and enjoying its excellent restaurants. Twenty-five persons signed on for this trip. They were good-natured in responding to our appeal to help carry boxes of the medical books—altogether they hauled to the Dr. Manuel Campos Hospital about 400 pounds of the books.                            

Embry-Riddle Students Spend Spring Semester in the Yucatan.  ERAU students in the spring Annual Travel Class elected to tour and study the Yucatan and Chiapas area, under the direction of Professor Steve Glassman. The seven students, with their teacher, carried about 300 pounds of books donated by Halifax Hospital to Dr. Jose Lomeli. Jose Aranda Alpuche, who is perhaps our Sister Cities Association’s oldest and warmest friend, arranged for the students to meet with the mayor, Antonio Gonzalez Curi, and also with the world famous Maya archeologist William Fallon, on the faculty of the University of Campeche. Dr. Fallon is responsible for impressive research at the Maya sites of Coba, in the neighboring state of Quintana Roo, and Calakmul, in southern Campeche state.

Our First High School Exchange Program Begins August, 1996. Four students from Campeche arrived at the Orlando International Airport on Friday, August 9. They were met by their Volusia families who were their hosts for the fall term. Several functions were arranged by the Sister Cities Association for the young people and their host families. A welcoming picnic for about 60 people was held at DeLeon Springs State Park, on the following Sunday. In attendance were Jose Aranda and his family who had accompanied the students from Campeche. Lic. Aranda was Administrator of Markets for the Municipality of Campeche at this time, and also had accepted the chairmanship of the Student Exchange Committee on the Campeche side. Other activities of the exchange students and their host families were the Soccer Tournament of the Mexican Communities Abroad, presented by the Mexican Consulate of Orlando, held at Rollins College, August 24 and 25; and the Mexican Independence Day Celebration at Lake Eola Park in Orlando on September 16. Dixie Blake and Betty Nelson were chairs of the Campeche/Volusia Student Exchange Committee. Other members were Timothy Egnor, Carolyn Negrete, and Dr. Betty Nielsen Green.

The host families provide lodging, food, and transportation for their charges, and in effect serve as substitute parents and siblings. The hope was that some of the children of the host families would in turn become students in Campeche preparatory schools. The program would thus provide opportunities for high school age youngsters to spend a year abroad and become proficient in their sister city’s language, at relatively little expense for the parents. As it has turned out, students from Volusia have found it difficult to interrupt their high school academic programs without delaying their matriculation at college upon graduation.

However, to compensate for this, foreign language teachers at Spruce Creek High School, Mary Risner, and later, Karin Merrill and Margaret Wittenburg, have regularly taken groups of our students for two-week visits in Campeche in early June, immediately following the end of the school term here. Placements of the students with Campeche families have been arranged by our loyal friends, teachers themselves, Fernando Manzanilla Zarate and Eduardo Aguilar Perez, often with assistance from Jose Aranda. Also, Fernando and Eduardo have frequently brought groups of their students here for two-week visits in the month of February, vacation time for Campeche youngsters, and home stays for these students have been arranged by Karin and Margaret.

Listed here, as the pioneers and initiators of this program are the names of the first contingent of Campeche students, along with their host families:

     Marcela Patron, guest of Bill and Audrey Young and their daughters Mickey and   

     Jennifer, of Ormond Beach. Marcela and Mickey attended Spruce Creek High School,

     where Mickey was an I.B. student.  

     Juan Carlos Alatorre, guest of Bob and Cathy Taus, and their son Kenny and daughter   

     Katie, of Ormond Beach. Juan Carlos and Kenny attended Mainland High.

     Laydiluz Perez, guest of Jonathon and Lois Davies, and their daughters Lisa and

     Ashley, of DeLand. Laydiluz was enrolled in the ESOL program at DeLand High.

     Juliana Duran Perez, guest of Dr. Rena and Dr. Wahba Wahba, and their three little

     Little daughters Nashwa, Leila, and Deena. Juliana attended Seabreeze High School.

Volusia Nurse Christina Cruz Employed in Campeche Hospital, Fall, 1996. Christina, one of our members, applied to work in a Campeche hospital for a period of six months, in order to learn about the medical system of the area, to have a cultural immersion experience, and to improve her fluency in Spanish. She was accepted by Dr. Lomeli for a position in his hospital. She lived in the home of the head nurse, learned to sleep in a hammock, came to greatly respect her fellow nurses and was impressed with the extensive training they had received. She taught a class in English for any members of the staff who were interested.

Dr. José Abud, Rector of the Autonomous University of Campeche, was Guest Lecturer at ERAU. Steve Glassman, Associate Professor of Humanities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, coordinated arrangements for Dr. Abud to visit ERAU. On January 30, 1997, Dr. Abud spoke to the student body and faculty on the general history of Campeche and the Yucatan region, stressing the splendors of the ancient Maya civilization. He met with ERAU officials, and signed an agreement with ERAU President Steven Sliwa to exchange faculty and students. Jim Cunningham, Dean of Academics and director of exchange programs remarked that, although ERAU has similar accords with very many universities around the world, “this one is of particular significance because Campeche is Daytona Beach’s sister city.”

While in Volusia, Dr. Abud met with Sister Cities members and other interested persons at a reception at the home in DeLand of ERAU professor and charter Sister City member, Ann Magaha. A dinner for Dr. Abud in Daytona was co-hosted by Gwen Azama-Edwards, Sister City president, and Betty Nelson, former president.

 

THE MARY RISNER PRESIDENCY, FEB. 1997 TO AUG. 1999

BAYONNE, FRANCE, BECOMES OUR SECOND SISTER CITY, 1998

DELEGATIONS ARE EXCHANGED, BAYONNE’S LED BY MAYOR JEAN GRENET, IN MAY

DAYTONA’S BY MAYER BUD ASHER IN SEPT.           

“EASTER IN BAYONNE, APRIL IN PARIS”

TOUR, MARCH 31 TO APRIL 14, 1999

May, 1997, Conference Among Campeche and Volusia Educators Concerning Plans for Future Student Exchanges. Mary Risner, Betty Nielsen Green, and Betty Nelson spent a long weekend in Campeche in May, 1997, visiting with school officials to discuss issues dealing with future student exchanges and to confirm arrangements for the summer exchange program to take place in June. They were met with extreme cordiality by professors at the Instituto Campechano and the families and students who would host the Volusia visitors. This first three-week summer exchange was made up of five I.B. Spanish language students from Spruce Creek High School, led by their teacher Mary Risner. The students lived with the Campeche families whose children would be exchange visitors in Volusia for the ten-month academic year. The students formed firm friendships in June and all were eager to reunite in the fall, when the Campeche youngsters would attend Spruce Creek High School with their Volusia counterparts. Their reunion was celebrated in early August with an all-day get-together picnic at Gemini Springs with students, host families, and many Sister Cities members participating.

Sister Cities and DBCC Co-Sponsor Film/Lecture Series. In the fall of 1997 Sister Cities, in collaboration with the DBCC Center of International Business Education sponsored a film/lecture series. In September, “El Norte” was screened, followed by a presentation from Francisco Bertot; “Christopher Columbus: Voyage of Discovery” was the October film, with DBCC English Professor Casey Blanton serving as commentator; in November Stetson Professor Bob Sitler presented a brief video on the Mayan World, followed by a slide presentation. In December, a Posado/Christmas celebration, on campus, was substituted for a film screening. However, plans for continuing the film/lecture series for succeeding semesters were in development.

Efforts of Christina Cruz to Organize Exchanges of Medical Personnel. Christina Cruz, following up on her five-months hospital experience in Campeche, spoke to students in a Spanish course offered to medical professionals at DBCC West Campus, and began recruiting interested parties to start an exchange whereby nurses from both areas could spend a week or two learning about medical programs and facilities in each others’ communities. She worked with contacts in Campeche to make arrangements for this. She was also expecting a nurse friend from Campeche to visit her and be given some introduction to Christina’s hospital work here.

December 1997 Tour to Campeche; Medical Supplies Transported by Tour Group Members. From December 12 to 19, Steve Glassman was director of another tour to Campeche, which included a two-day stop in Merida, capital city of the state of Yucatan. Steve introduces variations in the program with each visit; this time, slightly south of Merida, members left the tour bus and were transported in small skiffs to a vast marsh, near Celestun, one of the few breeding grounds for flamingoes in this or any area. As we approached, the sky along the horizon took on a brilliant pink hue, from the swirling and looping flight of what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of these beautiful birds, a breathtaking experience for the entranced watchers.                                                        

On this occasion, our willing travelers helped transport to Campeche eight backboards, ten traction splints, as well as some life-sized manikins, in their sturdy cases, to be used in the training of tour guides. Such guides must be skilled in emergency medical services in order to provide for the safety and health of the groups they lead into the jungles and the extensive ancient Mayan sites. These backboards, splints and manikins were the gift of DBCC Health Careers and Wellness Division, as arranged by Daniel Scales, Program Manager, Emergency Medical Services at the college, and approved by Dr. Charles Carroll, Dean of the College.

BAYONNE, FRANCE, BECOMES OUR SECOND SISTER CITY, 1998                         

 On February 8, 1998, the Daytona Beach City Council and Mayor Bud Asher voted unanimously to establish a sister relationship with Bayonne, France. Plans for this had been under discussion by our Sister Cities Board for several months, and had been actively promoted by Claude Duhau as representative of the city of Bayonne. Thus, a twelve-member delegation from Bayonne, led by Mayor Jean Grenet and his deputy Jean-Louis Delas, was received in Daytona from May 20 to 24. Lovely gifts were presented to those of us who welcomed and visited with the delegation at various functions: fine silk scarves, printed with scenes typical of Bayonne life, for the women and striped silk ties for the men, all in Bayonne’s colors, red, green and gold. Mayor Jean Grenet presented to Mayor Asher, as a gift from the city of Bayonne to the city of Daytona Beach, a beautifully decorated “makhila,” a classic Basque walking stick. It is a tradition in Bayonne to honor visitors and guests with gifts of makhilas. These perfectly balanced walking sticks, intricately carved, were first used by shepherds and pilgrims during the Middle Ages.                                                                                                   

 The partnership between the two cities was formalized in an official ceremony on May 21, at a dinner in the Bill France Room, Daytona USA, hosted by Mayor Bud Asher and City Manager Carey Smith. During their visit the delegation members were guests at a breakfast at Embry-Riddle, and on the following day the United Nations Chapter of Volusia County was their host at a luncheon at the Halifax Club. They were also feted by the Halifax Area’s Chamber of Commerce, by Gary Libby, Director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences, at a wine and cheese reception at the Museum, and by Dennis McGee, Director of Aviation at the International Airport, who led them on a tour of the facility before a dinner in the Volusia Room, hosted by Sister Cities. At the dinner, the Association presented Dr. Grenet with large, handsomely framed, standout photos of our area by News-Journal photographer Jim Tiller, one a night scene of a space ship rising from Cape Canaveral, another an overview of a race in progress at the International Speedway, also a night scene.

 Volusia Delegation Visits Bayonne, September 30 to October 4, 1998.  Mayor Bud Asher led the Daytona Beach delegation to Bayonne for a reciprocal visit and official signing of the “Protocol of Agreement.” Included in the delegation were several city commissioners and other city officials and their wives, and of course Sister Cities President Mary Risner, former president Gwen Azama-Edwards and her husband, and several other Sister Cities members, Ray Cornelius, Rebecca Strickland, Dixie and Ron Blake, Bill Gomon and his daughter Laurie Gomon Ring, and Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Rose. Gwen Azama-Edwards, in her capacity as Daytona Beach City Clerk, orchestrated all travel arrangements for the group and put in place all resolutions and official paperwork for the formalizing of the partnership between the two cities. The group was royally entertained and made aware of Bayonne’s rich history and culture. This ancient Basque city is situated on the border with Spain, near the foothills of the Pyrenees, on the confluence of two rivers as they flow into the Bay of Biscay. In ancient times it was an important Roman military outpost. Its charm is perhaps best expressed by Victor Hugo who called it “a gilded and smiling place.” In Bayonne one is in Hemingway country. It is fifty miles north of Pamplona, Spain, which is also Bayonne’s sister city, and is known for its running of the bulls on the Feast of San Fermin. This is described in “The Sun Also Rises,” which reveals the author’s love for the Basque culture.

 Delegation member Laurie Gomon Ring, an art instructor at Spruce Creek High School, was particularly delighted with the “magnificent Bonnat Museum….a true treat for me as we were able to view not only an entire collection of Bonnat’s masterful portraits but paintings and drawings from the Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassic, Romantic and Impressionist eras. I was thrilled at viewing up close original drawings by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Durer and given an opportunity to ask specific questions of the director of the Museum about them.

During this year I hope to involve my art students in the Sister Cities Young Artist Competition….I am going to encourage any of my art students who are learning French to correspond with some art students from Bayonne, since I was able to make a teacher connection while I was there.”

 Laurie’s father, retired architect William Gomon, was equally warm in his appreciation of the Bayonne experience. “Unforgettably delightful was a visit at the new glass-walled pelote arena, where we watched several games. We were then led into the social area of the facility. Here, as we enjoyed the fine food and wines, we were entertained by musicians who sang Basque songs to the accompaniment of accordions and drums…. It was on this celebratory occasion that the formal agreement uniting our two cities was signed. We established many friendships even during this short visit. I am pleased that my new friends, Monsieur Jean Claude Gommez and his son will visit Daytona Beach next summer, to stay with me for as long as they can.”

Like all delegation members, Dr. Herbert Rose was moved by the beauty of the Basque countryside, as well as the warm courtesy of the people. “We saw the picturesque coast, with its surf crashing onto steep rocks lying in the sea; the mountains that form the base of the Pyrenees, and the quaint fishing villages, luxurious villas and historical sites that dotted the coastline. All were unforgettable additions to our initial impressions of this beautiful area.

“The townspeople were apparently well aware of our visit. From the merchant at the music shop, where I asked for help in selecting music from the area, to fishermen on the bridge who identified their catches and gave me secret fishing tips, people were pleasant and quick to voice their pride in their city.”

Fourth Stetson Student Chosen for a Summer Internship in Campeche, 1998.  Gaida Gomez was the fortunate student to participate in this ongoing program sponsored by Stetson University and the City of Campeche Department of Tourism. The supervisor of these students is Oceanographer Alejandro Marin Vasquez, Coordinator of Tourism for Campeche City, the administrator who was so helpful to our Sister Cities Tourism Committee in doing much of the planning and arranging for the educational ecotour, in March 1996, just months after the hurricanes Opal and Roxanne struck Campeche. Ms. Gomez is fluent in Spanish and, as a business major, has expertise in web-page design and computer applications.

“Easter in Bayonne, April in Paris” Tour, March 31 to April 14, 1999. Under the direction of tour coordinator Dr. Jennie Celona, 28 travelers spent eight days in the Basque country, and five days in Paris. Of the greatest assistance in the planning of the tour was Sassoune Abeberry, owner of the Biarritz travel agency Pays Basque Privilege. Sassoune is a former pilota star and had spent time in the U.S., competing at various jai-alai frontons, including the one in Daytona, before it closed. He married an American girl, and is consequently in many ways thoroughly Americanized. He chose marvelous restaurants for our group and arranged for some wonderful experiences for us: visiting the Basque countryside; Biarritz and its grand beaches; Lourdes and its famous shrine; the town of St. Jean Pied de Port, an important crossing for 13th-century pilgrims on their way to visit the tomb of Saint James at Santiago de Compostella; Bilbao, the metropolitan heart of the Spanish Basque territory, with its astonishing new Guggenheim Museum, the great silver sculptured structure designed by the American architect Frank Gehry. 

Visiting Bayonne at the same time as the Sister Cities sponsored group was the celebrated Spruce Creek High School “Twelve O’Clock, Jazz Band,” including 22 student members and eight adults, all under the supervisiion of Band Director Andy Kidd. The band gave several concerts, jazz improvisation workshops, and presentations of historical perspectives of American Jazz music for audiences of high school students and the general public. A reciprocal arrangement for Bayonne music students to visit our area in the Spring of 2000 was planned. The Jazz Band students were housed together in a school dormitory.

Sister Cities Sponsors 1999 Summer Exchanges for Campeche, Bayonne, and Volusia County Students. Seven students from New Smyrna Beach High School, under Mary Risner’s supervision, visited Campeche for two weeks in June. Homestays with Campeche families were arranged for them. Five students from Bayonne, with their teacher Agnes Hillau, enjoyed a three-week stay with their Volusia families. And five Spruce Creek High School students, with Mary Risner, spent three weeks in Bayonne, also staying with host families.

Bridging the Gulf: a Group of DBCC Photography Students Visited Campeche, December 1998.  They were under the direction of foreign languages professor Jose Carmona and photography professor Patrick Van Dusen, who were awarded a grant by the Community Colleges for International Development organization (CCID), to guide the students in capturing the city in photographs and essays. On return they created an exhibition for display in both Campeche and Volusia County. The text was developed and translated into Spanish by the students. The final product was exhibited in DBCC’s student newspaper, “In Motion,” and shown on the college’s television station, WCEU. The photo exhibit was placed on display in the new Goddard Center.

Sister Cities Hosted Three Campeche Professors from the Instituto Campechano, May 16 to 20, 1999. Carmen Ladron de Guevara, Coordinator of Postgraduate Education, Eduardo Aguilar Perez, Director, Department of Tourism, and Fernando Manzanilla Zarate, Director of English studies, were invited by Sister Cities to renew friendships and discuss possible future exchange programs. On May 17, Dr. John Schorr, Chairman of the Sociology Department at Stetson University hosted a day’s activities at the school. They met Stetson faculty at a luncheon, toured the DeLand campus, and enjoyed a St. John’s River excursion. Later in the day they were given a tour of the International Speedway and Daytona USA, and were entertained at a Sister Cities dinner gathering. On May 18 they met with faculty at DBCC. Dr. Don Matthews, Director of International Programs, discussed with them the possibilities for broadening the scope of exchanges between the Instituto Campechano and DBCC to eventually include faculty, as well as undergraduates and continuing students. Both colleges have a great deal to offer each other in many untapped areas.     

Mary Lou Deeley, who was the visitors’ host for the day, entertained them at lunch and gave them a tour of our area. At the reception that evening, hosted by Sister Cities President Mary Risner and Dr. Matthews, a large crowd gathered to meet our guests and view the photo exhibit of the photography students at the Goddard Center. Present were Volusia County Council Chairman Pat Northey and her fellow councilmen Joe Jaynes and Frank Bruno, Mayor Bud Asher and his wife Dawn, and Mexican Consul Martin Torres, who had driven over from Orlando, as well as several students from Mary Risner’s and Laurie Gomon-Ring’s classes at Spruce Creek High School. The evening ended with a dinner gathering of DBCC students and faculty and Sister Cities members, hosted by Patrick Van Dusen.

 

THE MICHAEL O’NEILL PRESIDENCY, AUG. 1999 TO FEB. 2005

CAMPECHE DESIGNATED A WORLD HERITAGE SITE

BY UNESCO

BAYONNE ENGINEERING STUDENTS  ACCEPTED

FOR SUMMER INTERNSHIPS HERE, 2000, 2001

AMICALE ST. LEON MEMBERS VISIT HERE, NOV. 2000

 Campeche designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, December, 1999. All of Campeche’s sister cities—Sherman, Texas; Colon, Cuba; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Vera Cruz, Mexico--were invited to send delegates to a four-day reception in honor of the occasion. Five delegates representing our Sister Cities Association attended the event: Michael O’Neill, President, Mary Lou Deeley and Christina Cruz, Board members, and professors Emma Brombin and Kevin Miller from DBCC. Said President O’Neill, “We were treated like royalty. We were honored guests….At a special session of the Campeche City Council on the evening of January 26, we were all presented with commemorative scrolls of our visit, a personal one and one for Sister Cities. We were called forward to be greeted by the mayor of Campeche, the governor of the state, the head of the state legislature, the head of the state supreme court, and a representative of the Mexican foreign office from Mexico City….I was impressed by how much we could learn from Campeche about historic preservation….We can also learn about cultural tourism and town planning. As I walked along the Malecon, the miles of tiled walking/jogging/cycling or skateboarding paths bordering on the Gulf of Mexico/Bay of Campeche, I kept thinking how this should be an example to us how to extend the Daytona Beach boardwalk as a pedestrian way all up and down the 16 miles of Volusia County beach.”

Mary Lou Deeley Chaired the Sister Cities Regional Conference at the Hilton, January 22, 2000. After all her elaborate planning, unfortunately few groups from the region actually showed up. There were inspirational reports from state president Pat Buchanan, from Lakeland; from regional representative Cheryl Lawson-Young from Titusville; and from representatives from Mount Dora. Our speaker Victor Ostrowidski, Director of Flagler College Forum on Government and Public Policy, illuminated for us the reach of international sister cities when he described an encounter in Poland, decades ago, when a stranger approached him to tell him how much the sister cities connection with the U.S. had meant to him.

DBCC and Sister Cities Host Campeche Students and Professors from the Instituto Campechano, Campeche, Feb. 12 to 28, 2000. Professors Eduardo Aguilar Perez and Fernandez Manzanilla Zarate and ten of their students from the Instituto were our guests for this two-week period. Sister Cities arranged for homestays for the students through the help of Ms. Karin Merrill, Spruce Creek High School, and of Professor Emma Brombin, DBCC. Several hosts were DBCC faculty members. Professors Aguilar and Manzanilla taught several classes in special instructional programs arranged for them by Director of International Programs Dr. Donald Matthews, Adult Education Dean Gerald Frisby, and Adult Education Coordinator of Programs Barbara Gomez .

Visiting Student Tanya Cabanas Abreu and Host Family Sisters Katie Jessup and Jessica Sapp Score at Foreign Language Fest. Tanya won a first Prize in the impromptu category (for her dancing) and Jessica Sapp won a first in declamation, both from Mrs. Rosa Galliano’s Spanish class, at the Foreign Language Festival held on Saturday, March 18, 2000, at DBCC. In addition, Jessica and Katie Jessup, with whose family Tanya lived for her first semester here, both won $100 Foreign Language scholarships, which they will apply to their college expenses in the fall—both graduate from New Smyrna Beach High School in June.

Daytona Beach High School Students Have a “Cyber-Meeting” with Their Counterparts in Bayonne. Astrid Augat, teacher of French at Father Lopez High School, and Christian Millet Barbe, Youth Director of Bayonne, together arranged for students in Father Lopez High School and a lycee in Bayonne to have a “chat room” event, on Friday, March 24, 2000. It required careful coordinating of time schedules to allow for the six-hour time difference between our two areas. The students were thrilled by the experience; both the French and the U.S. students were enabled to try out their foreign language skills with each other. M. Millet Barbe tried to work out a three-way chatting event by involving students from a Pamplona lycee—Pamplona, Spain,  is a sister city of Bayonne. However, phone connections with Pamplona were disrupted. But Mrs. Augat and M. Millet Barbe will try again soon to establish a three-way connection. This is an exciting way to bring our students into contact with their counterparts in our French and Mexican sister cities.

Tour Director Dr. Jennie Celona Leads a Group of 21 Travelers to Bayonne in April 2000. The group was guided throughout the Basque territory by the best-qualified English-speaking tour guide Andy Fisher, and wined and dined at the great restaurants chosen by our Biarritz friend and travel agent Sassoune Abeberry. They enjoyed a champagne reception at the Mairie in Bayonne hosted by Deputy Mayor Jean Louis Delas. One of the new features of the trip was an excursion to Pamplona, Spain. An impressive statue of Hemingway has been placed in front of the world-renowned bullring. Sassoune arranged for the group to be let into the closed bullring and given a private tour complete with a detailed explanation of the sport of bullfighting. The most memorable treat of this year’s trip was a reception and dinner hosted by the Amicale St. Leon of Bayonne in their clubhouse under the ramparts close to the Spanish gate. The Amicale is a charitable organization founded in 1905. The cordiality of the members, the delightful evening of wine, Basque cuisine, dancing and song made the group feel almost as citizens of Bayonne.

Sister Cities Receives Distinguished Visitor, May 3 to 7, 2000. Mr. Richard MacLean, Executive Assistant to Mayor Walter Fitzgerald of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the capital city of the province, shared his extensive knowledge of and experience with municipal labour, recreation, housing, operations and budget issues in a lecture presented at Embry-Riddle, May 4, and at a luncheon hosted by the Volusia County Council in the County Administrative building, DeLand. Mr. MacLean was also featured at a Cinco de Mayo reception at Sica Hall, the Holly Hill Community Center, on May 5. Special guests for the evening were County Council members, and Mexican Consul Martin Torres. A Mexican dance routine was performed by Tanya Cabanas Abreu, one of our visiting exchange students.

Bayonne area university student hired as engineering intern by Daytona Beach Public Works for the summer 2000. Maite Bernard, was a fourth-year student in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Pau, which serves the Pyrenees Atlantic region of Bayonne Anglet and Biarritz. Gwen Azama-Edwards, as Daytona Beach City Clerk, was able to persuade Stan Lemke, then Supervisor of Daytona Beach Public Works, to offer an internship position to Maite. Maite’s supervisor, Mr. Jim Sloan, Chief of the Engineering Section, was impressed with the training she had received at Pau University, and was very pleased with her work for the department. So successful was this first experience of receiving a Bayonne student as an intern in our area that Education Committee co-chairs Dixie Blake and Betty Nelson determined to follow up on this and develop a program whereby we will have on-going exchanges of college-age interns between Volusia County and our sister cities Bayonne and Campeche.

Luckily we were able to find housing for Maite through the generosity of Jim and Cheryl Cunningham. Jim is Assistant Provost of Embry-Riddle and also Director of Study Abroad programs. Fortuitously he and Cheryl had planned to spend much of the summer in Europe, combining their vacation activities with Jim’s work in contacting universities  with which he had developed or had been developing programs for Embry-Riddle students to spend a semester of study abroad. They invited Maite to stay in their home in Ponce Inlet while they were away, asking her in return to water their plants and look after the cat. Jim Sloan was able to free up a Public Works car for Maite’s transportation needs. She had a wonderful summer, working and playing hard, utilizing the Cunningham’s bicycles and surfboards. Maite’s parents were able to visit her while she was enjoying the Cunningham’s home. Astrid Augat was especially delighted to meet them, as she had been hoping to arrange exchange experiences for students in her French classes at Father Lopez High School. The Bernards both teach technical science at the lycee in Bayonne, and have had experience with student exchanges. They offered some excellent suggestions to Astrid, and were very ready to work with her on a reciprocal program.

Ten Members of the Amicale St. Leon Visit Here November 13 to 23, 2000. The group, under the leadership of M. Andre Lamarque, public relations director, were housed with Sister Cities members, Myra Blackburn, Jennie Celona, Mary Lou Deeley, Marcia and Bob Manthey, and Sheila and Herb Rose. Friendships were renewed—the most important aspect of their visit. They did as well a lot of sight-seeing (saw some alligators—a must for them), enjoyed a St. John’s River cruise, visits To Cape Canaveral, to St. Augustine, to our Museum of Arts and Sciences, as well as to the several small museums in the Winter Park area. The Mantheys entertained them at a Thanksgiving brunch on the day of their departure.

 December 2000 Tour to Costa Rica, Led by Professor Steve Glassman, of Embry-Riddle. Steve is very much at home in Central America, having served as a Fullbright exchange professor in Belize in 1994, and having visited frequently and for extended stays in Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, and of course southern Mexico—Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. The purpose of the Costa Rica trip was in part to connect with officials of what had been assumed was a new sister city of Volusia County,  Belen, a suburb of San Jose, the capital city. Contacts for this had been tentatively explored by DeLand city officials. This part of the plan proved to be an exercise in futility—we could discover no Belen official who knew anything about such an arrangement.

 However, the eight-day adventure, including visits to coffee plantations, to the spectacular Orosi valley in Cartago Province, to the Lankester Botanical Gardens, with their collections of over 800 varieties of orchids, ferns, and anthuriums, to the Cano Negro wildlife sanctuary, to the tropical rain forest, to the hot springs of Tabacon Park, with a full day at the Arenal Volcano, and a day’s Pacific Island cruise, was thoroughly enjoyed by the entire group.

 A Second French Engineering Student Accepted for a Summer Internship Position by the Volusia County Public Works Department, May 13 to Aug. 2001. He is Julien Correges, a fourth year student at Maite’s school, the University of Pau. Arrangements for this internship were set up by Chandra Gordon, Personnel Officer in the Volusia County Administrative Center. We are grateful to Ms. Gordon for her help with this, and for her strong support of our program. And grateful also to Stetson University for providing for Julien’s living arrangements. He was assigned to the Foreign Language House, and was given every student privilege, such as the use of the library and the cafeteria. Stetson is an institutional member of Sister Cities.