May 2022
50 Years of Sharing
Prescott Sister City Association Plans a Year of Anniversary Events

“The threads of our heritage and our history are woven together. We inspire each other, shape each other. We are stronger when we face the challenges of our modern world together. When we recognize our shared heritage we can better understand and celebrate the true beauty and diversity of America.” Dr. Jill Biden, speaking on Cinco de Mayo

Most of us will not have seen coverage of the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House last month. We were more likely out celebrating with our friends, enjoying tequila and tacos. Mary Kaye O’Neill found a video of Dr. Jill Biden’s warm words spoken at the White House that day in her email inbox, sent by a friend in Caborca, our Sister City.

On May 7 our local Sister City Association hosted an all-day Cinco de Mayo celebration on the patio at the Hassayampa Hotel. It was a beautiful day and people were constantly dropping in to enjoy the live music and refreshments. I spoke with a number of members who have participated in Sister Cities events over the years. This year is especially exciting, as they are celebrating 50 years of cultural exchange and friendship with Caborca. There are so many stories to share and so very many friendships to acknowledge thanks to the ongoing work of this group.

Will Fisher has been involved with the Sister Cities group for over 25 years. As a formal choral director at Yavapai College he has taken choirs to visit and perform in Caborca, but he also began taking his family down to visit when his children were very young. He says that he and his wife Joanie didn’t want their girls growing up with the negative cultural assumptions often held by US citizens regarding Mexico. They made a connection with a Caborcan family with children the same age as theirs, and they have visited back and forth many times over the last two decades.

Currently vice chair and treasurer of the association, Will calls the work vital: “I think this organization is a truly important thing. Of all the things we’ve done, the most logical thing is to make connections with people somewhere else and get to meet them.”

The group is planning many events for this anniversary year, most notably an anniversary gala on September 17, 5:30-10pm at the Prescott Adult Center. There will be a dinner, dancing and celebrating with Prescott Sister City members and visiting Caborcans. Speakers will include Mexico’s Consul General Jorge Mendoza Yescas, the mayor of Caborca, and our own Mayor Phil Goode.

The Prescott group will also have a float in the Rodeo parade in July, and there will be a potluck at Goldwater Lake on August 11, a great opportunity to check out the Sister Cities folk and their work.

September is Hispanic Heritage Month, and Prescott College, the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and Yavapai College will all be hosting events, including a fiesta downtown to celebrate our shared heritage.

People often join the Sister Cities Association as a way to practice their Spanish. While the work does provide that kind of opportunity, it entails so much more. The group has close ties with an orphanage and a kindergarten in Caborca, both underfunded and in need of various kinds of support.

Sukey Jones, former president of our Prescott group, says, “It’s not just collecting donations, but finding out what the needs are. The kindergarten reached out with a list of school supplies they needed. On the list were dolls that show various professions, like nurses, firefighters and doctors. Our Prescott group found them and filled that need.”

There are opportunities for making meaningful connections, with potential as great as the imagination and initiative of those willing and excited to step up. Students of all ages can benefit greatly from exchanges that happen on any level, from a pen-pal letter exchange to visiting back and forth in home stays. All it takes is a teacher or a parent who wants to make it happen, and the Sister Cities group is there to help.

Maybe you’d like to see how you can help provide something the orphanage needs, like a new freezer, or maybe you’d like to visit and do an art project with the children. Here’s your chance!

If you’d like to connect with a live Caborcan but not physically go there, the Sister Cities group will match you with someone for a Zoom meeting. They also have regular Spanish-language evenings.

Regular visits by Prescott members to Caborca include early April, when Prescott visitors can ride the float in the Mexican Independance Day parade, and in October. There are opportunities for members to stay with Caborcan hosts, which is great for making lasting friendships and getting a deeper understanding of the culture.

To find out more about the Sister Cities Association, visit the August 11 potluck at Goldwater Lake, and get tickets for the 50th Anniversary Gala on September 17, which will be available starting July 15 at the Prescott Chamber of Commerce. Seating is limited, so get your tickets early.

Abby Brill is Associate Editor of 5enses.

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