A series of relevant and meaningful international stories
Letter from the Editor
In April 2013, twenty years after the founding of ASCA, the ASCA board authorized a project to capture the rich history of the association and appointed me editor. The board was motivated by more than the celebration of a round number. It realized that our founding generation is beginning to leave the scene; what we did not retrieve now would dissipate and a compelling narrative would be lost. The board was also motivated by the desire to learn from our experience so that ASCA can continually improve its service to the community. In gathering the reminiscences of ASCA activists and posting them on the web, the board also wished to send a signal about the transparency of the association’s efforts as an ongoing invitation to Arlingtonians to join with us in advancing the cause of mutual understanding across international borders.
This project has been anything but a solitary exercise. It benefits in the first instance from our talented and dedicated team members, Sandra MacDonald Davis (former ASCA chairperson), and Chrystia Sonevytsky (former president and founder of the Ivano-Frankivsk committee). As is the case for virtually everything ASCA does, this project is a non-paid volunteer activity, undertaken because of a sense of responsibility and commitment to our community.
Together, we have mapped out a three-year work plan designed to produce at least 30 oral history interviews. The first ten we are posting represent all five of Arlington’s sister cities—Aachen, Coyoacan, Reims, San Miguel, and Ivano-Frankivsk—as well as perceptions from the Arlington County Board, with a special emphasis on the older generation of activists. As we add to this collection in the coming months, many other voices, including those from our counterparts abroad, will be added to the mix.
The attentive reader will notice that all of our interviews unfold in similar fashion. Our team decided to focus on three broad areas of conversation:
The background of the interviewee. We were interested in the types of individuals that considered sister city programs important enough to devote time and effort to ASCA. We also wanted to know about the specific path that brought them to ASCA.
The ASCA activities in which our interviewees participated. Here we explore as fully as possible the dimensions and range of our sister city relationships. We also shed light on the dynamics of development of the association and gain some insight into why things are done the way they are in ASCA.
How the interviewees evaluate ASCA: what were their initial expectations and how did they evolve. Where do they think that ASCA is headed.
From responses to these three fields of questions, our aim was to create as comprehensive a picture of ASCA’s origins, development and current association life as possible.
In addition to the interviews published on this site, In addition to the interviews published on this site, we added an essay “Honoring the Founding Generation, The Origins of the Arlington Sister City Association” to honore the founders of ASCA, two of whom, John McCracken and John (Jack) Melnick, have already left us. Without their vision and commitment, our slate would still be a tabula rasa.