BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- On Monday, just days before Christmas, the City Council will vote on whether Bridgeport will form a sister-city relationship with Bethlehem, which Christian believe is the birthplace of Jesus.
Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim, recently represented the city in a visit to the Mideast as a delegate of the International Conference of Mayors with dozens of other representatives.
Bridgeport hopes such a relationship will help bring about closer economic, cultural, and educational ties with that community.
The resolution points out that Bridgeport is "a virtual United Nations" with 147,000 residents speaking more than 60 different languages.
Bethlehem was chosen because it "serves as a beacon to worldwide Christianity" and is a good match for Bridgeport with its "diversity of the Christian denominations and churches," the resolution says.
Bethlehem and Bridgeport both are facing economic challenges stemming from violence and would benefit from "sharing greater wealth and enlightenment due to closer ties with the other."
Ganim made a special visit to the Office of the Bethlehem Municipality and Mayor Vera Baboun. Officials there have extended the hand of friendship to the people of Bridgeport.
The city of Bethlehem has stated a desire to engage in a mutually beneficial sister city relationship with the citizens of Bridgeport, a relationship Bethlehem now has with cities in Romania, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Chile, Morocco, South Africa, France, Austria, and Scotland.
Other benefits from the resolution:
- Sister City relationships provide opportunities for city officials, citizens and students to experience and explore other cultures through long-term community partnerships; and
- Sister City relationships create an atmosphere in which economic and community development can be implemented and strengthened.
- Sister City programs stimulate environments through which communities will creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional and technical exchanges and projects.
New Haven, Hartford, and Stamford have had longstanding Sister City Programs, and Bridgeport has been working to reinvigorate sister city relationships in Italy, Romania and China.