As sister cities, Cuenca and Tempe, Arizona, may seem like an odd couple but organizers of the new alliance say that it is a great deal for both communities.
According to Richard Boroto, Cuenca representative in organizing the new partnership, Tempe is an excellent choice for Cuenca. “They are rated the number one city in the U.S. in terms of being active with their sister cities. They have a strong educational exchange program and exceptionally strong community support.”
Located in suburban Phoenix, Tempe is a university city (Arizona State University) with a population of 165,000 and a well established reputation for supporting educational cultural projects. Just as important, says Boroto, is that they have great relationships with their other seven sister cities. Cuenca joins the company of such cities as Timbuktu, Mali, Skopje, Macedonia and Regensburg, Germany.
Cuenca will be Tempe’s second sister city with UNESCO World Heritage Site status, after Timbuktu. “This is a good match,” says Boroto. “Cuenca’s history and educational tradition appeals Tempe and, because they have such great support, it is a great opportunity for us.” Boroto is in Tempe this week is representing Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera to work out details of the agreement.
According to Boroto, director of the Abraham Lincoln Cultural Center, several hundred Tempe families are actively involved with their sister cities. The program is funded through Tempe’s annual “Way Out West Oktoberfest,” which provides funding for the exchange of students, teachers and professionals with the city’s partners.
Once the new program is established, Boroto will be looking to enlist the help of Cuencanos to serve as hosts for visitors from Tempe. He has already received commitments from 25 members of the Abraham Lincoln Center staff but says he will need more. “This is a people-to-people program, not a government-to-government program, so we want to involve as much of the community as possible. Anyone interested in helping out can contact Boroto by email at email@example.com.
According to Boroto, Cuenca has a number of other sister city agreements, including ones with Cuenca, Spain, Cusco, Peru, Havana, Cuba and Paducah, Kentucky. “There has not been a lot of recent interaction with these cities. This won’t be the case with Tempe.”
Photo caption: Tempe, Arizona's expanding skylilne