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|
|Garden Club||Taufkirchen (Vils)|
Heimat- und Verschönerungsverein
(Homeland and Beautification Association)
|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.