Theme 4: Cultural Change through Cultural Exchange
Toledo has had a long history of cultural exchange organizations that have sought to foster greater international understanding and peace. In additional to formalized relationships with cities and regions, Toledo’s immigrant populations have done much to remember their heritage through organizations that celebrate their homelands.
One of the most important cultural exchange groups is the Association of Two Toledos, the oldest sister city organization in the world. The group developed because of the natural connection of two cities with the same name, and the earliest contact between the two occurred in 1876. In 1931, UT President Henry Doermann helped to formalize the relationship when he visited the country with a small delegation. He also convinced Spain to allow the University of Toledo to model its seal after the coat of arms of Ferdinand and Isabella. While the relationship between the two cities has been disrupted at times by war, it continues today. The association also helped to influence the establishment of Toledo Sisters Cities International, which now has formal relationships with cities in Germany, Hungary, Poland, China, Pakistan, and Lebanon.
Other cultural exchange organizations focus on a particular culture. Alliance Francaise, founded by Betty Mauk, celebrates French culture and provides language classes. Toledo Turners stressed the connection between physical fitness and German culture. And many of these groups hold yearly festivals where they invite others to experience their culture, including the International Festival, an umbrella celebration of the cultures of many immigrant groups.
The University of Toledo has also played a role in cultural exchange by both opening the door to foreign students to study at UT, and also by creating opportunities for American students to study abroad.
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