Sister Cities
Sister Cities

The City of Shawnee now has three sister cities:

Pittem Belgium
Listowel Ireland
Erfurt Germany


In early 1983, the Shawnee Chamber of commerce and the Shawnee Historical Society sought the City's support of the Sister City Program, which resulted in the Governing Body adopting a resolution of support, Resolution No. 601, on March 28, 1983. At that time, 12 other cities in Kansas were participating in the Sister City Program.

The Sister City program was created in an effort to increase international understanding by encouraging relationships between communities in different parts of the world.

The goal for the cities involved is to learn more about each other and to develop lasting and meaningful relationships through ongoing exchanges of people, ideas, and cultures. Affiliations between cities in the United States and other countries began shortly after 1945, but no real national focus was realized until 1946 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated the People to People Program at the White House.


Pittem Belgium

The Shawnee City Council adopted Resolution 614 designating Pittem, Belgium as a Sister City on November 28,1983. Mayor Soetaert received a letter from Leopold Gelaude, Mayor of Pittem, confirming the Council of Pittem stating the friendly relationship between the two cities in its session of February 6, 1984.

Belgium is a small country of 11,730 square miles (about the size of the state of Maryland). Since 1830, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy. Three languages are spoken in Belgium (Dutch, French, and German). The country has three main regions: Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels.

The City of Pittem, Belgium, is located in the province of West Flanders, and is situated 25 miles from the North Sea. The rural Pittem consists of two residential centers: Pittem and Egem. The image of the village in Pittem is dominated by the sturdy Roman tower of the St. Mary's Church, in Egem by the pointed neo-gothic tower of the St. Germanus-Church.

Agriculture and more recently horticulture has been an important part of life in Pittem since the 12th thru 17th centuries, when great farms were built up. The city has a certain amount of industry, particularly in building, textile, and plastics and the psychiatric hospital "St. Joseph" provides other employment opportunities. Different kinds of sport activities, social and cultural festivities, society meetings, and expositions take place there.

During the 1800's and early 1900's many residents left the area from sheer economic necessity and emigrated to other area, particularly France and America. In the period of one generation (1880-1914) about 450 citizens of Egem emigrated to America. Constant, Henri and Karel Soetaert emigrated to America in 1892. Former Mayor Thomas Soetaert (1977-1989) is a descendent of Constant.

In honor of this sister city relationship, a city park at 55th and Nieman was named West Flanders Park and dedicated as a memorial to the Belgians who migrated to Shawnee in the early 1900's from the West Flanders Province of Belgium. The dedication ceremony was held September 27, 1986.



Listowel Ireland

The Shawnee City Council adopted Resolution 647 designating Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland as a Sister City on July 8, 1985.

In honor of this sister city relationship, a City park at 71st and Quivira was named Listowel Park and dedicated as a memorial to early Shawnee settlers who emigrated to this area from Ireland. The dedication ceremony was conducted September 20, 1986. Since 1986, visitors from Listowel have been guests of honor each year at Shawnee's St. Patrick's Day parade and after-parade festivities.

This drum was given to the City of Shawnee and is currently displayed in the Sister Cities display case at Shawnee City Hall.


Erfurt Germany

The Shawnee City Council adopted Resolution 926 designating Erfurt, Germany as a Sister City on June 8, 1993.

The City of Erfurt became a mighty trade metropolis at an early date. The location of the town at the intersection of old trading routes contributed to its rise since it was first mentioned in the 8th century. Those who came here during the Middle Ages could literally get blue: nowhere else in Europe was such an ample amount of the plant, "dyer's woad", to be had. People traded and made piles, the city limits were extended, the residents became rich. They were also the ones who established a university in 1392, which was the first in Germany to combine all four classical courses of study.

The University claims as its most famous student the church reformer Martin Luther, who enrolled for law in 1501, and was later ordained a priest in Erfurt in 1507. According to recent findings, Johannes Gutenberg is supposed to have studied here, too. Printing with movable letters was carried out according to his method as early as in the 15th century.

Erfurt underwent a revival in the 17th century with commercial horticulture. The big seller was watercress cultures. Beginning in 1807, Erfurt remained under its scepter for seven years. Napoleon's famous encounter with Goethe also falls in this period. The last prominent meeting in the city's history took place in 1970: on March 19 the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic, Willi Stoph, received the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Willy Brandt - a milestone for the later basic treaty between the two German states.

Since the peaceful democratic revolution 1989 and the parliamentary elections for the whole of Germany in 1990, Erfurt has been, once again, the capital of Thüringen and is today the home of 206,000 people. Source by: So schö ist Erfurt (Sachbuchverlag Karin Mader)

Erfurt boasts a zoo, numerous museums, and many flower gardens representative of the city's important horticultural roots.

The Thüringian State Chancellery, built from 1713 to 1720, could not have picked out a more dignified domicile than the former Kurmainz governor's office. The monumental baroque edifice was the center of European power politics for a short time when Napoleon resided here after the battle of Jena and Auerstedt.

The University of Erfurt was the center of German humanism in the 16th century. Its law faculty attained fame, Martin Luther praised it as a student as did Adam Riese, who published his legendary mathematics book here in 1518. All that remained of it was the entrance portal, which is regarded today as the gate to a new start: the University, founded in 1392 and closed in 1816, is to come alive again soon as a European school of higher educations.

www.GoodStartsHere.org