Sister City Association plans for 2012 | Island Forum

The Mercer Island Sister City Association has for 11 years enjoyed and valued our “jumelage,” or “twinning,” with the beautiful city of Thonon les Bains on Lake Geneva (Lac LeMan to our French friends) near Geneva, Switzerland. A relationship that began with our first visit to Thonon in May of 2000 felt a bit like “love at first sight” and, after returning home, we learned that Thonon and Mercer Island officials and citizens shared warm new feelings of friendship, many common essential values, and a sincere desire to develop an official sister city relationship. That summer, on a Saturday during our annual Summer Celebration, a delegation from Thonon arrived to Mercer Island, and our two mayors, Jean Denais and Alan Merkle, signed the official documents at Mercerdale Park.

Just as twins usually do, our two cities share many characteristics: We are situated along a beautiful fresh water lake, near a major international city, with many majestic mountain ranges nearby. We also share a deep belief in the importance of caring for our environment and place great importance on education, our families and a healthy lifestyle including outdoor recreation.

Thonon lies just down the lakeshore from Evian, home of the world-renowned Evian water bottling facility. Delicious spring water from the same aquifer that flows from the surrounding Alps Mountains to Evian also flows to a bottling facility near Thonon, and bears the name of our sister city.  (Air France has been known to occasionally serve Thonon Water on some of its flights.)

January is a time for fresh starts, full of hope, anticipation and annual planning for many Mercer Island residents and organizations. The Sister City Association is no exception. As the new year begins, we are inviting new members to join us as we gather for many fun and meaningful events.

Twice a month we hold French Conversation Evenings, where French speakers of all levels are welcome.

Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. we will offer a subtitled French film about the incredible life and work of Picasso, graciously hosted by Aljoya, in concert with MI Parks and Recreation’s film series. Refreshments are served at 6:30 p.m., prior to the film.

March 30-April 9 we are planning, in cooperation with Mercer Island High School and French teachers, another student exchange trip, when students will meet and stay with host students and their families, visit their schools and explore the many fascinating sights and experiences near Thonon. (Since the beginning of this program, well over 100 students have traveled to Thonon, and hosted French students here in return.)

On April 25 we will again hold “April in Paris Book Night,” thanks to the generous support and hospitality of Island Books.

On May 12 our annual Soiree and fundraiser will again be a five-course, wine-paired dinner at Kaspar’s Restaurant.

On July 14 we anticipate again combining forces with the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce for a Fireworks Cruise timed simultaneously with Bastille Day and the 12th anniversary of the official “birth” of our jumelage.

In October, host students from Thonon will visit our student travelers, completing the circle of friendship and the exchange.

We celebrate being a part of an organization that connects us to warm, friendly people in a very special place far beyond our shores, promoting international understanding, peaceful interactions, and appreciation for another culture; person to person, family to family, city to city.

For more information about the Mercer Island Sister City Association and its activities, please stop in at the Chamber of Commerce office or drop a line to MISCA, 7605 S.E. 27th St. Suite 109, Mercer Island, Wash., 98040.


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