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Sister Cities: Taufkirchen (Vils), Bavaria and West Chicago, Illinois

Wasserschloss Taufkirchen (Vils)

Wasserschloss Taufkirchen (Vils), © Partnerschaftsverein Taufkirchen (Vils) und West Chicago e.V.

22.02.2019 - Article

Partners across All Borders, Friends over Many Years 

The partnership between Taufkirchen (Vils), Bavaria and the city of West Chicago in the heart of the USA has been going on for nearly 20 years now and has proven to be strong and lively despite the great distance. Countless participants of all ages have been involved in a regular and ongoing exchange - whether as visitors, hosts or organizers. And they have not only gotten to know each other’s culture, but have often made close friends.

How the connection came about

In 1976 and 1977, Bodo Gsedl came to the small Midwestern town of West Chicago via a one-year student exchange. Twenty years later, after moving to Taufkirchen on the Vils River, he proposed a partnership with this town in Illinois. Since the Taufkirchners’ desire for a town twinning already existed, Gsedl’s idea was met with open ears. In addition, his twin brother Uwe had settled in West Chicago, which made direct contact very easy.

The initiation of contact took place through the local Chamber of Commerce, which very warmly received the first delegation from Taufkirchen in West Chicago in 1998. Together they prepared the foundation for the transatlantic partnership, which was officially agreed upon in 1999 at a ceremony in Taufkirchen.

Partnership association for the cultivation of the relationship

In order to expand and further strengthen this gang, in 2001 the “Partnerschaftsverein Taufkirchen (Vils) und West Chicago e.V.” was founded, which has since been very successful in organizing a regular exchange: the Taufkirchners have traveled to West Chicago 12 times, and American have come to Taufkirchen 10 times. The mutual visits always follow the same principle: All participants are accommodated with host families, and in addition to an official visit program, quite a bit of time is set aside for guest and host family to get to know each other better. In this way, different lifestyles can be experienced and exchanged in a home environment. In the sense of a lasting international understanding, stereotypes are questioned and prejudices are diminished. The personal contacts that were established in this way resulted in lasting friendships for many of the participants.

In recent years, the contact and exchange of students between the local secondary school and West Chicago High School has intensified. As a result, a youth advisory board was appointed to the board of the association, which now looks after a more direct connection to our students in Taufkirchen (Vils). Of course, this international partnership should also be actively and vividly shaped in the future and expanded on as many levels as possible. This open and intensive opportunity for a personal encounter will never be possible with a purely tourist offer.

Timeline of Exchanges

Year
Occasion or Group
Place Visited
1998
Pro Taufkirchen
West Chicago
1999
Partnership proclamation
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2000
Mixed youth group
West Chicago
2001
Bodo Gsedl exhibition
West Chicago
2001
Senior citizens group
West Chicago
2002
Chamber Choir 
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2002
Blind Fate (rock band)
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2003
Artist group
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2003
Men's Choir Dorfen
West Chicago
2004
5th anniversary celebration
West Chicago
2005
Landshut Wedding
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2005
Swing Orchestra
West Chicago

2007

Garden Club
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2008

Heimat- und Verschönerungsverein

(Homeland and Beautification Association)

West Chicago
2009
10th anniversary celebration
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2011
d'Vilstaler Gebensbach
West Chicago
2013
High school jazz band
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2014
15th anniversary celebration
West Chicago
2015
Group with mayor and two teachers
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2016
Realschule group
West Chicago
2017
High school group
Taufkirchen (Vils)
2018
Open youth group
West Chicago

Our sister city West Chicago

The City of West Chicago is a typical American suburb in the northeast of the US state of Illinois, 50 kilometers west of the metropolis Chicago and Lake Michigan. Founded in 1849 as a railway junction “Turner Junction,” the town was renamed “West Chicago” in 1896. Due to the rail traffic, the town developed into a prosperous small town with a diverse mixture of trade and industry, but without losing its character and charm. Even managed farms can still be found within the town boundaries.

The city of West Chicago is not only very attractive to its citizens because of its municipal facilities such as the police and fire brigade, but also because of its excellent and diverse educational and leisure facilities, which include not only the ultra-modern high school, but also the City Museum and the generously equipped city library. Opened in 2014, the ARC Center leaves almost nothing to be desired in terms of sporting activities and active recreation. The surrounding parks and nature reserves also offer a high recreational value. One of the largest private airports in the United States is located on the western outskirts of the city, and Fermilab, the research center for particle physics, is located in the south.

You can find detailed information about our town Taufkirchen (Vils) here: https://www.taufkirchen.de/marktgemeinde/gemeinde/heute/

Text provided by the Partnerschaftsverein Taufkirchen (Vils) und West Chicago e.V.

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