Sister City Group Gears Up
for Relationship in El Salvador

(Monday, September 25, 2006 6:28 AM EDT)
The Arlington Sister City Association had reasons to celebrate at its first annual picnic, held at Bluemont Park on Sept. 21. Chief among them: The recently signed friendship agreement with San Miguel, El Salvador - a precursor to a formal Sister City agreement - is bearing fruit.

Arlington plans to send a delegation to San Miguel (El Salvador's second-largest city) in November, just in time for that city's annual Carnival celebration, described as the second largest in the world, behind that of Rio de Janeiro.

The Arlington Sister City Association also is raising funds to send 40 computers to San Miguel's schools and universities. How they plan to raise the money is an event in itself.

Five young Arlington women have been chosen to run for the title of Carnival Queen. Whoever raises the most money wins the title and a free trip to San Miguel.

“The best part of the competition is we don't pick based on beauty,” said Arlington Sister City Association board member José Pineda. “We want a girl who is diplomatic, outgoing and friendly.”

The Carnival Queen will be crowned on Oct. 27, and the mayor of San Miguel will be present as a special guest.

“I don't know if I'm going to win,” said contestant Luz Umana at the picnic. “I just want to help students in El Salvador realize their dreams.”

Steps have also been taken to have a professional exchange. The San Miguel Committee of the Sister City Association plans to bring doctors, businessmen, lawyers, accountants and other professionals from San Miguel to the United States.

The goal is to have professionals from the U.S. share knowledge and expertise in their respective fields in hopes that their visitors can use the information once they return to El Salvador.

Sandra MacDonald, chairman of the Sister City Association, said she is confident that the budding Arlington-San Miguel relationship will be a strong one.

“The timeline toward Sister City status will be quick because the San Miguel committee is very eager and energetic,” she said.

When it becomes a formal Sister City, San Miguel will represent the fourth official relationship Arlington has with cities across the world.Arlington already has Sister City agreements with Coyoacan, Mexico; Aachen, Germany; and Reims, France.

For more information on the Arlington Sister City Association, see the Web site at

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