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Sister cities of Grand Forks, North Dakota facts for kids

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Grand Forks sister cities:
United States Dickinson, North Dakota, USA
Norway Sarpsborg, Norway
Japan Awano, Japan (defunct)
Russia Ishim, Russia (inactive)

The sister cities of Grand Forks, North Dakota have been designated through the city of Grand Forks' active sister city program which is designed to encourage cultural and economic exchanges. In the case of Dickinson, North Dakota, the relationship is also a political alliance.

Grand Forks' first sister city was Ishim in the Soviet Union. The relationship with the Siberian city formally began in 1984 during the Cold War, but progressed slowly due to red tape. In fact, the first in-person exchanges didn't happen until 1990, following glasnost. More exchanges followed despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Sometime in the late 1990s, however, political and economic turmoil in Russia put the relationship in deep freeze from which it has yet to recover.

While the relationship with Ishim faded, Grand Forks found a new sister in Awano, Japan. An informal relationship began in 1994 when the school districts of both cities began exchanging students. The bond strengthened after the 1997 flood devastated Grand Forks. Awano, a city of 10,000, sent $26,000 to help Grand Forks. In 1998, the two formally proclaimed themselves sister cities. The most concrete evidence of the relationship between the two is a Japanese rock garden in Grand Forks' Sertoma Park and a sculpture of an American bison in an Awano park. Awano is no longer a sister city, however, because it is no longer a city. The nearby city of Kanuma recently annexed Awano, a smaller city. Kanuma city leaders say they already have a sister city in Australia and can't afford another one. The student exchange between the school districts is expected to continue.

Grand Forks' relationship with Dickinson, North Dakota began in 2002, when delegations from each city visited the other. The Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau organized the exchange with its counterpart in Dickinson to showcase tourist attractions and improve cooperation in promoting statewide tourism. There is also a political component. Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown has said he thinks having friends in western North Dakota, which typically has diverging interests from eastern cities, would help at the state legislature.

Sarpsborg, Norway became a sister city in 2005 following several exchanges among leaders from both cities. Located southeast of Oslo, Sarpsborg is a city with a similar-sized population to Grand Forks. The city became interested in building a relationship with Sarpsborg because many Grand Forks residents have Norwegian heritage. The Grand Forks School District has announced plans to teach Norwegian language classes in the high schools, and a student exchange program began in 2007.

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