CultureSpot writer Andrew Batchelor explores the growing relationship between Dundee and it’s sister city – Alexandria, Virginia in the United States.
Both Dundee and it’s sister city Alexandria in Virginia have a growing connection – people from both cities meet one another now and again with students from both cities coming to visit one another and the two cities actually have a lot in common if you think about — similar population, similar skyline, similar economics and similar cultures.
Although Dundee has had close relationships with other sister cities such as Orleans in France, it can be considered that the Dundee-Alexandria relationship are the closest of both cities and it would be special to see this relationship expand further.
Dundee and Alexandria both became twinned with one another in 1962. Dundee, at the time only had two other twinned cities associated with it, Orleans in France and Zadar in Croatia. Alexandria was the only US city that was twinned with Dundee up until the city was twinned with West Dundee in Illinois in 2013. But Dundee’s closest relationship remains with Alexandria.
The Dundee-Alexandria Twinning Association was set up with the aim to promote the enhancement of education through encouragement of visits to and from both cities, improve the communication links between the two and develop and broaden mutual understanding in the following sectors of activity: Medical, Social, Cultural, Recreational, Religious, Commercial and matters of Heritage to benefit the people from both cities,
Dundee and Alexandria support one another through culture and the relationship between the two cities have actually come from a very long way – the 17th century to be accurate where a Scotsman with relations to Dundee had bought the land where Alexandria stands on today.
Both Dundee and Alexandria have a growing economy – Alexandria due to being a hotspot for tourists and shoppers who visit Washington D.C. as it is only six miles away from the city and Dundee – well of course you know why: the V&A Dundee and the Dundee waterfront which has had major effects on business interest and growth in the city. So both actually have great economic interest and growth.
Connections with students and young people
School or colleges from both Dundee and Alexandria visit the two cities now and again. Last year, Alexandria welcomed six exchange students from Dundee and Angus College to study whilst a school group from an Alexandria school came to visit Dundee on one recent occasion. I would love to see more students and young people from Dundee to come and visit Alexandria through either school trips or on exchange studies because it is a great chance to experience not just Alexandria’s culture – but America’s as well.
I remember when I was a student at Harris Academy and the former pupils of the class of 1966 had a 50th anniversary reunion party and the funds raised were to go towards a school trip to Alexandria but two years on from the successful event, it seems that the trip has either been benched or cancelled altogether – and if it is the latter then that would be a complete shame as it would’ve be great to see Harris Academy students to visit the twin cities – and I was eager to visit the city – and I am still eager to visit Alexandria to this very day.
Over 40 pupils and staff from Morgan Academy in Dundee will be travelling to Alexandria in October later this year for the third time where they will be building on existing links.
In an article by the Scotsman published last year, former Lord Provost Bob Duncan had spoke of the celebrations both cities have and how it was special with one another:
“We celebrate Independence Day on July fourth and have a hot dog stand and a band and raise money to send kids across to America – which is obviously very expensive. “We have a big Thanksgiving dinner every year in the Dundee college, and this year we’re having an emancipation day, to celebrate the end of slavery in America in April 16 1865, where we’re trying to have a dinner for it.
In Alexandria they have a Scots weekend, where a whole lot of Scots – not just from around the county but also the state – and march through the streets of Alexandria. And the Sister Cities committee is one of the main flag bearers in that parade. It’s well thought of. We are enthusiastic supporters of twinning in Dundee because of the positive way it fosters relationships and encourages collaborative projects.”
“It’s a very supportive community. We are very active in the Alexandria twinning – there’s been a lot of back and forward with sports teams, in music – choirs and a band have gone over.”
The future relationship
Alexandria and Dundee will hopefully have a growing relationship in the future and my hope is to see more people from both cities visit or study in either from Dundee or Alexandria and see an expansion of membership in the Dundee-Alexandria Sister Cities group.