Sister cities Cleveland and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, will learn about each other’s culture and customs in the coming years.
The symbolic partnership was made official recently and local officials are saying it will be beneficial to both cities.
“One of the most important things we do is learn about the cultures of other people,” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said.
Fred Garmon, international director and president of People for Care and Learning, said exactly how the two cities will exchange cultures and learn from each other is not specific.
“At this point, I don’t know,” Garmon said.
He emphasized the partnership is still in the beginning stages of officially establishing the relationship. The first step was taken when Cambodian officials traveled to Cleveland last month.
“In this short visit, I could tell the Cambodian delegation saw many things that they hadn’t known existed before,” Rowland said.
They were especially interested in manufacturing sites in Cleveland.
“They were really fascinated by Amazon,” Rowland said.
Rowland said he hopes the partnership will bring more jobs and manufacturing to Cambodia and create a market for the products from Cleveland.
During the week of the Cambodian delegation’s visit, the southeast Asian government approved land needed for a mattress factory, according to Garmon.
“That will put people to work that are making less than $1 at this point,” Garmon said.
He said while the Cambodian delegation was in town members said now that they know Duracell batteries are made in their sister city that will be the brand they choose.
Opening new trade and tourism options is another aspect the mayor hopes to see.
Cleveland officials are planning a visit to Cambodia and hope to visit in March 2013, where they will sign Cambodian documents formalizing the relationship.
Garmon said he hopes the partnership will bring an exchange of arts, education and unique opportunities.
Benefits to the Cambodian city have begun with the People for Care and Learning’s Build a City project in Andong. This project paved the way for the governments of the two cities to meet, according to Garmon.
Further development in the project and partnerships through the organization are already being planned. Garmon said a business class at Lee University is developing business plans that he hopes will be used and implemented in Andong.
The newly formed Bradley Central High School interact club is hoping to have cross-cultural exchanges with students in Andong.
“Hopefully what happens on our end is that we will be more thankful for what we have,” Garmon said
Educational exchange between the two cities began last year when students at Tennessee Christian Preparatory School used the Internet telephone system Skype to communicate with students in People for Care and Learning Children homes in Phnom Penh.
He hopes that students will continue to get to know each other. Students at Bradley Central hope to Skype students in Cambodia also.
“It is a true partnership. Our partnership at this point is the Build a City project,” Garmon said.