Hands Across the Pond – Expanding of Cultures and Understanding

Have you ever heard of the twinning of 2 towns?  According to Wikipedia, “in the United Kingdom, the term twin towns is most commonly used, generally referring to town-twinning with Europe, differentiating with the term sister cities, which is used for agreements with towns and cities in the Americas.”

Well here in Billerica we have officially twinned with Billericay Essex UK back on August 21, 1998, nearly 15 years ago.  However much activity between the towns has gone on for decades – girl scout troops, the High School band, celebration of Billerica’s 350th anniversary and so much more.

The official group here in Billerica that is the liason with Billericay is the Billerica Twinning Group – blog attached – http://billericabillericay.wordpress.com/ and facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/45119629252/ with pictures from recent activities and some 32 friends and counting.

Did you know that Billericay is also twinned with 2 other sister cities? – another one here in the states, Fishers Indiana (although no one has clearly explained the connection) and also a town in France.

Billerica is not the only town in Massachusetts to have a sister town.  Tewksbury has Tewksbury has Tewkesbury Gloucestershire in UK, Lowell has  Saint-Die-des-Vosges , Vosges in France, Lexington has 3 sister towns (Antony, Hauts-de-Seine in France – Dnipropetrovsk, Oblast in the Ukraine – and Dolores, Hidalgo, Guanajuato in Mexco).  Those are just the ones in this area.  Brookline and Cambridge both have 9 different sister cities, Boston has 11.  For more information on the different sister cities see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sister_cities_in_New_England#Massachusetts.

The purpose of the Billerica Twinning Group is to work with its sister group Billerica Mayflower Twinning Association http://www.billericaytwinning.org.uk/ to foster communication between the towns through local groups such as the Rotary, the Lions, and the Masons, through local schools, local historical groups such as the Billerica Historical Society and the Billericay Society and the like.

In 2001 a group from Billericay was scheduled to visit Billerica during the week of the horrific events of September 11th.  Both towns shared in deaths of local citizens in those twin towers.  They did come the following year and participated in the remembrance of those who died, sharing in the services, and helping each community to move on to healing.  That bond can never be broken.  During the 2005 Billerica 350th celebration the Billericay group was an integral part of the celebration.  And the list goes on.

Perhaps you live in a town that has a sister city OR are moving to a town with one.  It would be fun to get involved – a great way of extending the cultural boundaries and understanding across the pond.

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