Sister city relationship continues; Ratingen visitors welcomed here by M. Jill Sundstrom Vermillion�s sister city relationship with Ratingen was reinvigorated as special guests from Germany visited their southeastern South Dakota counterpart last month.
�The relationship has been going on for more than 20 years, but these things from time to time need refreshing,� said Werner Kitzler, associate professor of modern languages at The University of South Dakota. He and his wife, Janice, and several other Vermillion people hosted the group.
Among the visitors were Ratingen Mayor Wolfgang Diedrich, council members Gisela Pinkow, Joachim Petzschmann and Christian Wiglow, along with Herbert Luckas, Ratingen city administration, and artist Roswitha Riebe-Beicht. They were in South Dakota from Oct. 6-14.
In addition to meeting with Vermillion city officials, including Mayor Bill Radigan, they visited several University of South Dakota professors, toured the city and the USD campus and traveled to the Black Hills.
�This was the mayor�s first time in the United States,� Kitzler said. �He wanted to re-establish ties between Vermillion and Ratingen.�
Through the years, both Vermillion and Ratingen citizens have traveled back and forth between the two cities. As time goes on, cultural exchanges, specifically art, are now also taking place.
�There are some great things going on in that area,� Kitzler said. �Artwork by USD students and professors is now on display in Ratingen, and while the Ratingen delegation was here, an exhibit by Roswitha Riebe-Beicht was opened at USD.�
Sister cities are important in many ways, Kitzler said, as people learn about another country�s, history, culture and citizens.
�It�s important to have contact with a foreign country,� Kitzler said. �It presents a unique way to open local borders. And sister city relationships add a certain degree of cultural sophistication to a city. Both Vermillion and Ratingen are enriched through this relationship.
�As the relationship evolves, you find yourself learning more about singular lives, beyond the sphere of tourism,� he continued. �Everyone involved begins to experience people and their society in a more personal and unique way.�
Still, Kitzler says the success of a sister city kinship depends on the people who live in each community.
�Enthusiasm is there,� he said, �but only within the people who are involved. I think Vermillion could do a little more. We�d like to try to encourage more involvement, especially from our students because the Ratingen mayor indicated that students from Vermillion are welcome for all kinds of exchanges, internships, work and study.�
Kitzler would also like to see more tours ? to and from Ratingen.
�We�ve seen a lot in terms of culture and education, but we need to do more, such as invite Ratingen bands, organizations and teachers to Vermillion,� he said. �This relationship has enriched Vermillion and we need to continue it by establishing more people-to-people contact.�
Kitzler would like to see the establishment of a sister city committee that could eventually have a budget to help individuals travel to Germany.
�I would hate to see the interest subside,� Kitzler said. �By continuing this sister city relationship, supporting it, reinvigorating it, we are paying tribute to many citizens in Vermillion who played an instrumental role in developing it. If we don�t, we�re not showing historic respect for their efforts. We owe it to them and ourselves to continue to cultivate this relationship.�