The following post was written by Susanne Evens, President of St. Louis – Stuttgart Sister Cities. In preparation for the 60th anniversary of the partnership, St. Louis hosted a week-long delegation from Stuttgart, rich with cultural exchange, meaningful collaboration, and new friendships.
For more information on the St. Louis – Stuttgart partnership:
It’s been a privilege and honor to be the president of St. Louis’ oldest Sister City of Stuttgart, Germany for the past 13 years. We continuously strive to welcome visitors and delegations and have hosted economic, student, and art exchanges between our cities for the past 59 years.
At the end of September, a delegation visited St. Louis and from the moment they arrived there was an immediate bond which deepened every day. This is precisely what President Dwight D. Eisenhower had in mind when he proposed in 1956 a non-partisan people-to-people citizen diplomacy initiative to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time.
This year under the Wunderbar Together celebration, the German American Center – Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum / James-F.-Byrnes-Institut in Stuttgart, together with the International Department of the City of Stuttgart, St. Louis Stuttgart Sister Cities Board Members, and volunteers, arranged a six-day visit to St. Louis.
On the first day, Explore St. Louis took us on a tour of St. Louis, including the Delmar Loop, the Blues Museum, lunch at Sugarfire BBQ, up in the Arch, and ending up at a St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs game.
On the second day, we were invited by the St. Louis Art Museum to view their extensive German Art collection, visited Forest Park, and received a private tour of local brewery Urban Chestnut, co-owned by a German and St. Louis Stuttgart Sister Cities board member.
Business discussions started on Day 3 with a welcome by Mayor Lyda Krewson at City Hall. A welcome and luncheon was hosted by the World Trade Center, which included a briefing of the German companies located in the St. Louis area. The World Trade Center in St. Louis is the umbrella organization for all of St. Louis’ Sister Cities.
The Missouri Partnership was also in attendance and showcased all of the Missouri-wide German companies.
In the afternoon, we were welcome by Bayer Crop Sciences for a private tour of their facilities.
In the meantime, two start-up companies from Stuttgart were provided an all-day tour of the local start-up scene, from the Cortex Innovation Community to the CIC Co-working Space to the T-Rex Start-Up Community, all courtesy of St. Louis Makes.
On the same day, a board member with the Stuttgart Reds Baseball Team met with the St. Louis Cardinals to discuss future collaboration for youth baseball exchanges.
The evening ended with a networking reception hosted by the International Department of the City of Stuttgart at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
Day 4 was spent at the University of Missouri St. Louis with meetings and breakout session discussing future collaborations, even the possibility of having a University of Stuttgart Desk at the University of Missouri St. Louis and a University of Missouri St. Louis Desk at the University of Stuttgart.
The afternoon was spent at the St. Louis Zoo with a meeting between Stuttgart and St. Louis Zoo officials and a private tour of the Zoo.
Day 5 included a guided tram tour of the Botanical Garden and a visit to Tower Grove Garden, the oldest Victorian Garden west of the Mississippi. The afternoon was spent at the Cortex Innovation Community with a welcome and tour and a briefing by Boeing HorizonX. Afterwards we were invited to the Wunderbar Together PopUp Tour Science Slam, hosted by Bayer AG and Merck KGaA based in Darmstadt, Germany.
Afterwards some ended up at the world-renown Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop, where Chuck Berry used to perform.
Day 6 was hosted by the Missouri Humanities Council with a guided trip along the German Heritage Corridor on Highway 94. We were welcome at the Peers Store along the Katy Trail by Magnificent Missouri and learned about the rich German history of the area. After that we visited Bryan Haynes Gallery in Washington, Missouri for a delicious lunch and a presentation of his New Regionalist art.
The last evening was spent at the Trainwreck Saloon in Westport breaking bread one more time and saying good-bye to old and new friends.
Our new friends and new colleagues arrived without any expectations about the Midwest and left energized about all the new opportunities that unfolded during their visit and they will be visiting St. Louis again.
One major thing that made this visit really special was that board members, volunteers and I volunteered to chauffeur our visitors to the various locations, which opened up discussions that would not have otherwise happened. They felt the true “American Spirit” during those times they were traveling together. New friendships were created, as well as a bond that will last above and beyond the new exchanges, in the true spirit of the Sister Cities mission.
A big thank you to everyone instrumental in making this delegation visit, in preparation for our 60th anniversary in 2020, a huge success.
This blog post forms part of Sister Cities’ “Wunderbar Together” series, part of our ongoing involvement in “Wunderbar Together,” funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, implemented by the Goethe-Institut, and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). This year, we are showcasing stories that highlight the impact of German-American exchange on the local level, as well as the heritage, interests, and common values shared by the United States and Germany. To submit your own experience with German-American exchange or involvement in a German-American sister city partnership, please fill out our form here.