Citizen Diplomacy of the Roanoke Valley: An Examination of Sister City Partnerships

Author: Liesl Greider
Major: History
Approved: Spring 2020
Status: Completed

As a result of the Second World War, a prolonged period of healing and reparations went into effect. One element of this healing was the creation of Sister City International in 1956 by President Eisenhower. The “sister city” movement has been in full effect for over sixty years now, and after having seen firsthand the kinds of links it can form based on my experience interning in Saint-Lô this past summer, I am curious as to the reach and impact of sister cities. This project seeks to analyze and compare three cities from the Roanoke Valley Sister Cities International network through a comparative study. I will do this by researching how and why the relationships between these three sister cities were formed and by interviewing participants about their experience with each. The three cities I plan to focus on include the St-Lô chapter, the Roanoke chapter, and the Opole, Poland chapter. In order to complete this comparative analysis I will need to travel to Opole to conduct research on the inner workings of this particular sister city chapter. As for St-Lô, I have already seen firsthand how it is run, and as for Roanoke, I will study this chapter through an internship. After having gained knowledge on each specific chapter in each specific city, I will then proceed to cross-analyze my observations in order to compare various aspects of each organization. The data I have collected will be used to evaluate the scope of sister city partnerships, the differences between different models, and how these differences shape the organization’s impact. Ultimately, this research seeks to categorically explain and showcase the impact of citizen diplomacy through the eyes of three unique yet related cities, and then to advocate for its continuation at the community level right here in the Roanoke Valley.

Final abstract:

Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, des villes sœurs ont commencé à surgir dans tout le pays pour être utilisées comme une stratégie diplomatique saine qui aiderait le monde à développer des liens positifs dirigés par des diplomates citoyens. Ces liens, connus sous le nom de ville «d’amitié», de «sœur» ou de «jumelage», sont maintenant prolifiques; plus de 2 000 villes se sont jumelées. Roanoke, en Virginie, ne fait pas exception avec sept villes sœurs représentant cinq continents. Ce projet explore l’impact et la portée de trois villes sœurs: St-Lô, Roanoke et Opole, en déterminant comment et pourquoi les participants de l’organisation RVSCI se sont impliqués et leur impression du succès de l’institution ces derniers temps. Pour chacune des trois villes, j’analyse le fonctionnement interne du fonctionnement du chapitre, tout en utilisant également des entretiens qualitatifs avec les participants au chapitre pour mieux comprendre l’impact personnel ressenti en fonction du chapitre.

Greider Distinction Project Final