Which Berkshire towns have sister cities?
Building connections around the world
Pittsfield has four, the most of any Berkshire town. Former Mayor Charles Smith, a Vietnam vet, paired Pittsfield with Cheongju, South Korea, paving the way for partnerships with Malpaisillo, Nicaragua; Cava de’ Tirreni, Italy; and Ballina, Ireland. Numerous delegations have traveled to each, including 20 Berkshire high-school students who swapped with Cava de’ Tirreni students.
The Pittsfield program is active in large part thanks to Andy Kelly, chairman of Pittsfield’s Sister City Commission. Kelly traveled to each Sister City with his band, the aptly named Sister City Jazz Ambassadors. “Making music and making friends is what keeps me involved and excited,” says Kelly, whose troubadours play at schools, embassies, and any place in between.
Sister Cities International was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower after World War II, with a mission “to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.”
Three other Berkshire towns are known to have Sister Cities: North Adams with Noisiel, France; Great Barrington with Fada N’gourma, Burkina Faso; and Ingersoll, Ontario; and Lanesborough with Lanesborough, Ireland. Sandisfield will pair with Ombersley, England, the seat of Lord Sandys after whom the town is named. Monterey and Williamstown have also floated the idea, and in Pittsfield, there’s talk of a new pairing with an African country. Kelly’s delighted, saying the relations with new cultures keep the program relevant and alive.
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