Dateline: May 14, 2019
As part of a “twinning project,” Athens, Alabama will be hosting representatives from Stonehaven, Scotland later this month. Last year the two cities entered into a sister-city agreement founded upon the mutual interest of sharing their culture, arts, education, government, sporting, farming, business, and communities with one another. By twinning, the cities hope to encourage tourism to both locations and strengthen the regions’ civic, cultural, recreational, educational, and commercial opportunities.
Athens State University has taken an active role in the twinning project. Religious Studies Professor, Dr. Debra Baird, is overseeing the venture with Phil Mills-Bishop, leader of the Stonehaven Twinning Group, and Richard Holman-Baird, co-chair of the Twinning Group. Baird made the connection between the two cities and friended Mills-Bishop by researching her own family lineage.
Since the partnership is educational, Athens City Schools are also involved. The schools have been encouraged to participate in web chats with schools in Scotland to allow students to experience new cultures and learn more about Scottish students. The partnership could also potentially provide student exchange opportunities for students from
Scotland’s University of Aberdeen and Athens State University. “This program will help our students connect with others outside their community and outside their experiences,” said Dr. Stephen Spencer, Dean of Athens State University’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Scottish representatives will arrive in Athens on May 23 and stay through May 30. The public is invited to attend a Sister City Document signing at Athens City Hall on Wednesday, May 29 at 5:00 pm. Representatives from Athens and Scotland will be discussing possible partnerships during the event.
Committee members involved with the twinning project include: Dr. Debra Baird, Athens State University; Dr. Chris Hamilton, Athens City Schools Communications; Dr. Trey Holladay, Athens City Schools Superintendent; Ms. Holly Hollman, Athens City Grant Coordinator/Communications Specialist; Ms. Diane Lehr, Athens Art League/DAR; Ms. Kelley U. Smith, Athens Community; Professor Laura Lynn Kerner, Athens State University; Dr. Stephen Spencer, Athens State University; Ms. Sissy Thompson, Athens Community/DAR; Ms. Teresa Todd, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association, Inc.; and Mr. Phil Mills-Bishop, Mr. Richard Holman-Baird, and Professor Neil McLeannan from Stonehaven.
Representatives from Athens are scheduled to take a trip to Stonehaven from July 31 – August 6.