Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for April 27, 2010
Board attendees: Bill Nance, Bruce Adams, Adrienne VanLare, Don Mooers, Dianne Smith and Theresa Cameron by telephone. Bill Nance led the meeting in absence of Bill Hudnut, Chair.
1. The board approved the minutes from the March 11 Board meeting.
2. The board engaged in an extensive discussion of planning for a county delegation trip to Morazan in El Salvador from Saturday, August 7 to Saturday, August 14. The Governor and Evelyn have done some planning for the delegation visits in Morazan. The coordinator and guide in Morazan will be Fredis Pereira, a university graduate familiar with the Department, will arrange for airport pickup, hire drivers, translators, and help plan itineraries. It is expected that the delegation will be in Morazan from Saturday to Wednesday and San Salvador, the capital, from Thursday to the next Saturday. The Morazan part of the trip will include travel to Guatajiagua and San Francisco, the capital of Morazan. The delegation so far will include Evelyn Gonzalez, Bruce Adams, Bruce’s daughter Emily, Don Mooers and maybe his son, Ana Lopez from Community Bridges and 4 middle School girls, Dianne Smith and Theresa Cameron could also go, though they both have family events to attend around that time. Some people who are considering going on this trip are: Amy Gumaer, Dean of Humanities, at Montgomery College and Karla Silvestre, Latino liaison for the county. There is still a need to have representation from art and culture, MCPS, and business sector. It appears that the trip will cost each participant about $1200 including air fare, lodging, meals and contributions for drivers and guide. Bruce will contact Miller and Long, the construction company, to obtain their support for this project. Mier will follow up with MCPS and Montgomery College. Also, Don Mooers mentioned meeting Armando Portillo, from DC United Soccer Team, who may be interested in being a part of the delegation to ES. Evelyn will follow up.
The mission of the trip is to explore locations in Morazan for possible projects. Three small contained and sustainable projects was one stated goal. Don refers to the trip as a “discernment” listening tour. The delegation will meet with the Mayors of Guatajiagua and San Francisco as well as the Governor of Morazan. The delegation knowing the lack of County sister cities funds will also look into the possibility of a piggyback onto an existing project in Morazan. There will be a meeting with an AID officer in Morazan to learn about successful projects there sponsored by or subsidized by AID. Furthermore, Bruce is optimistic based on coordination with Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity that a County Habitat team can be assembled for a project in Morazan in the summer of 2011. The delegation will meet with local Habitat leaders in Morazan. Simultaneous with adult trip representatives visiting different locations in Morazan, the 4 girls from Community Bridges will participate in a project yet to be defined with girls in Morazan. Further outreach to complete planning will be with Ana Lopez and Jerry Weast. Before contacting Dr. Weast, Evelyn and Mier will develop a several paragraph description of possible program ideas in Morazan. The board will find out if the school system has any funds to devote to this project or if it can identify volunteers who might want to participate in educational projects in Morazan. Evelyn will set up a meeting with Ana Lopez and Heather from the Gandhi Brigade, since they recently took a youth group to El Salvador. Adrienne offered to schedule a meeting with Bernadette Musselwhite in the office of County Economic Development to learn about her experience in traveling to El Salvador on an earlier delegation with then County Executive Doug Duncan. Adrienne also offered to help in pre trip health arrangements.
3. Mier gave an update on Beit Shemesh. It will be the board’s second sister city according to current planning. Sister Cities is already helping facilitate Beit Shemesh exchange programs in the county. There was a visit from Ethiopian Jewish Beit Shemesh residents in December. In June Beit Shemesh will be sending 5 environmental activists to visit the county to explore what the county does to better the environment including its recycling efforts. In turn Beit Shemesh is becoming expert in “gray water” which the County hopes to learn more about on this visit. The Beit Shemesh discussion led to some mention of other places where our sister cities program might partner. The board agreed that it would wait to consider prospects in Africa and Asia. Mier is to contact Michael Lin through Lily Qi, County Asian liaison, for advice on contacting another Chinese community for partnering, Pudong having failed. He can help the board evaluate the Nankai District in Tianjin which has expressed interest in exploring a partnership with the County. A delegation from Nankai may come to the County in the fall for partnering discussion purposes. The contact developed through an exchange student at Walt Whitman High School who actually contacted her city government and Ike to urge them to have these discussions. For Africa we will do a presentation at a County African Advisory Group meeting and invite them to send a speaker to our board, too.
Mier reported that our first two Russian community contacts appear to have fallen through. They contacted us, but have found that their form of government in the two instances might not work for sister cities. Boris Foxman will continue to look for other Russian prospects, though Africa and Asia remain priorities for the board.
4. The board then discussed fundraising for the sister cities program. It was agreed that we would plan a fundraiser in the fall after the delegation trip to El Salvador. That way the board can feature photographs and progress at such an event. Bill Nance, Treasurer, will open a bank account for our non-profit corporation after Mier vets the various possibilities including the China Bank in Rockville and LEDC bank in Wheaton among others mentioned by the board. Board members will be asked to contribute $100 a person to start the sister cities account. It was agreed that Mier would be reimbursed $750 which he paid on behalf of the organization to incorporate in Maryland and to obtain non-profit status from the IRS.
5. The meeting was adjourned.