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Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission announces grant winners

The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission will help fund five projects to further Charlottesville’s connections with international cities.

It’s part of the 2023 Sister City Grants Program, which supports projects aiming “to promote cultural connection and understanding among [Charlottesville’s] Sister and Friendship Cities,” according to the commission’s website. Each project will receive $4,000.

Charlottesville’s current sister cities are Besançon, France; Poggio a Caiano, Italy; and Winneba, Ghana. Huehuetenango, Guatemala, is also listed as a “Friendship City,” according to the commission’s website.

According to a city statement, the winning projects are the following:

“Les Amitiés Musicales: Building Ties with the Besançon Music Community” is a project by Daniel and Shelby Sender. They plan to attend a multiday arts residency at the Lycée Pasteur, the local high school in Besançon, and perform a concert featuring music by Besançon-born composers and African American composer Florence Price. They also plan to hold a pre-trip concert in Charlottesville.

“Mapping & Art: Teaching the Geography of the Sister Cities to Children” is a project by Alexandria Searls on behalf of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. She plans to design and hold a series of educational workshops for local children to teach about Charlottesville’s sister and friendship cities through creative mapmaking. The resulting curriculum will be made available to Charlottesville and Albemarle County public schools.

“MisMatch Around the World” is a project by Darnell Walker. He plans to make a collection of short videos aimed at kids featuring a friendly character “MisMatch” who takes a learning trip to Poggio a Caiano. The videos will be available on YouTube and offer a glimpse at the people, places and daily life in Poggio.

“Sister Revolutions” is a planned project by Benjamin Bernard. He plans to create a history-oriented public media podcast about how Charlottesville and Besançon were involved in respective 18th-century revolutions. The podcast will include content from both cities and will have parts accessible in French as well as English.

“A Tale of Two Cities: Exploring Huehuetenango” is a project by Elias Alonzo on behalf of the Ixtatán Foundation. He plans to create six 30-minute podcast episodes featuring residents of Charlottesville and Huehuetenago who are connected in various ways, such as economics, education, government and art.


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