The sister city partnership between Gedern and Columbia, IL was established with a “Declaration of Friendship” on April 29 1993 in Gedern. The partnership has existed for 25 years.
The “Declaration of Friendship” serves as the basis for brotherhood and sisterhood and was signed in both German and English by the mayors of both cities in a festive ceremony.
For the promotion of the partnership, the association Gedern/Columbia e.V. was created on 10/01/1992 and has at present approx. 300 members and cares for all events near the sister city of Columbia. The city of Gedern has transferred care of the partnership and further development to the sister city association Gedern/Columbia e.V..
From the very beginning, the partnership has been geared toward both youth and adults.
An exchange for adults takes place every two years and lasts 10 days. On average, between 40 and 50 people take part.
In the past, these travel groups were partly accompanied by Gedern music associations (Seementaler Musikanten, Stolberger Buwe) as well as the fire brigade, which maintains a close friendship with the Columbia Volunteer Fire Department, so that up to 80 people from Gedern have already visited Columbia.
The host city provides accommodation for all participants with host families and friends, organizes excursions and cultural events, as well as a welcome and farewell party. All events are of course open to the public.
The second pillar of the city partnership has been the student exchange between the Gedern Comprehensive School and Columbia High School since 1993.
Every year up to 25 students attend the respective partner school for three weeks. The students of the Gedern Comprehensive School prepare meticulously for their stay in Columbia. In addition to several hours of English lessons every week, presentations are also prepared and then given in English at the various schools in Columbia. The partnership associations of both cities promote friendship between the students with a series of events, day trips, etc., and provides financial assistance for the exchange.
For many years, students from Gedern Comprehensive School have attended Columbia High School for an entire school year.
In 2013, the partnership was honored with the title “2013 Sister City of the Year by the Illinois State Sister Cities Association” on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.
The prize was accepted by Columbia's mayor Kevin Hutchinson in Chicago.