by John Heiney, Community Outreach Manager, Prescott Tourism Office
The City of Prescott and Zeitz, Germany, became Sister Cities in 2012. The goal for the partnership is to create a cultural sharing and understanding between the two cities. The Zeitz Sister City Committee consists of all volunteers, including former Prescott City Councilman Chris Kuknyo, who serves as president.
The program consists mainly of student cultural exchanges. For the past several years, German language students from Bradshaw Mountain High School and Prescott High School have traveled in small groups to Zeitz, where they live with host families and attend school with host students. This experience is intended to be a cultural emersion. The students are encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones and try new experiences.
Upon returning, the students give a presentation to the Sister City Committee.
“They each come away with a unique perspective of their visit by doing the things an average family in Zeitz does,” says Kuknyo. “Some talk about the architecture and history that is hundreds to a thousand years old, while others really experienced a bonding with their host family.”
One thing they all share is a new knowledge that, when it comes to other cultures, we are more alike than different. One student put it best during his presentation when he said: “We live in a great country, but there are other great countries, too.”
Funding for the program is raised almost exclusively by the annual Oktoberfest held in Prescott. Last year, the event raised more than $5,800.
Mayor-exchange visits have also been part of the Sister City Program. Last October, Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli and his wife Sheila visited Zeitz, meeting with the Zeitz mayor and officials.
“This was a tremendous experience,” says Mengarelli. “Sheila and I were pleased to continue this tradition of sharing and exchange between our two great cities. We look forward to the Zeitz Sister City program continuing, and we thank all of those dedicated volunteers, teachers and students for helping to continue this important exchange.”
To become a member of the Prescott-Zeitz Sister City Association, contact Chris Kuknyo, Board Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be a host family, you must be a parent of a student at either Prescott High School or Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley. German students are matched up with local high school students based on age and gender. Contact the principal at either high school for more information or to pick up an application.