Mayor Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady welcomed students from Kempten University of Applied Science to Sligo County Hall this week. The students were visiting Sligo as guests of Sligo IT.
The Mayor said their visit ‘is another important milestone in the very special friendship between Kempten and Sligo. Both as Mayor and in my role as Chair of our Council’s Town Twinning Committee, I have had the privilege of welcoming many groups to our town and also visiting our good friends in Kempten. Over the years of our association, the people of Kempten have been both welcome visitors and exceptional hosts, and this has been the foundation of our enduring association.’
Indeed the first contact between Kempten and Sligo involved a student exchange programme, and the networks and friendships established by that initiative provided the inspiration to develop other projects. The association was formalised with the signing of a Charter in Kempten in February 1990 and two months later in Sligo. The Charter expressed our shared ambition that ‘personal contacts be strengthened’ and focused on the important role to be played by young people in particular in fostering and nurturing this friendship.
In the quarter century since then, our association has developed at many levels. While the civic authorities have provided the formal basis for the twinning arrangement, it has been the inspiration and catalyst for many other excellent projects in the realms of education, culture, arts, music and tourism. One of the highlights of our association is the networking between our local colleges and colleges in Kempten – and IT Sligo and St Angela’s College have been active partners in this endeavour.
There is consensus on all sides that there are great benefits from sharing the experiences and methods in our respective colleges. At the end of last year, Sligo County Council welcomed two students from Kempten on a two month Erasmus placement, they were exceptional young people, they learned so much and offered so much in their brief time with us.
The wider context to the exchange programme is that it enables students to explore the cultures and traditions of another country, it broadens their horizons and opens up new avenues in terms of study and research, and establishes an invaluable network of contacts to share and develop new ideas and concepts. By any measure we have been enriched by our friendship with the people of Kempten, it is an association I will continue to support and promote, and I regard this particular programme as a model of its kind.