CITIZEN DIPLOMACY IN ACTION AND ON THE MOVE.
The Mount Prospect Sister Cities Commission had an Exchange with our Sister City Sèvres, France September 14 to 19, 2013. We have been Sister Cities since 2000. The relationship has been rich with learning about our respective city’s and people. Our French guests arrived on 9/14 in the afternoon after a long flight from Paris and a short excursion through US Customs. We picked them up and brought them to Village Hall for a short reception and to meet their Host families. It has been the tradition on our exchanges that we stay in each other’s homes. Light refreshments and beverages
were served and greetings shared. The French Delegation then went home with their Hosts for dinner and rest. Sunday was the first day of our exchange beginning with a visit to our French Market at the Mount Prospect Farmers Market. We had been hoping for sun but were greeted with rain. The rain was gentle and warm so did not seem to
deter shoppers or venders at the market. Ours guests met local shoppers and listened to French stories at the children’s Library story time at the market.
Musicians playing violin and guitar provided lovely French music in the background of the market. At noon we headed with our French guests to Lions Park for an old fashioned American picnic. Rain moved us to the gym but the chefs, our Sister City members were at the grills barbecuing hamburgers and hot dogs to perfection. The traditional fare of potato salad, cole slaw, chips, and an array of condiments culminating in dessert of apple and cherry pie were served. Entertainment was the Arlington Squares, a square dance group. It was great fun. They demonstrated square dancing and then taught the group the dances. Everyone had a great time dancing and laughing. The afternoon was topped off with baggo and some whiffle ball. The afternoon ended about 5PM so our guests could have dinner and an evening with their host families.
On Monday morning we met at Village Hall to board our ‘so cute’ Village Bus and cars to drive to Paddock Publications to tour the Daily Herald our local newspaper. One of the owners and CEO Bob Paddock greeted us and took us under his wing sharing family history, local newspaper history and their modern operations. The paper was founded in the 1890’s. We also visited the plant looking at the presses, paper and the amazing process to publish a daily paper. Around 12:30 we headed to Pilot Pete’s a restaurant near the production plant at the Schaumburg airport. It is a small local airport and lunch was a unique experience being situated on the edge of the runway and able to watch small planes take off and land as we dined. At 2 PM we were off to our next stop the Villas of Sèvres a local Mount Prospect Townhouse project named for our Sister City. Randhurst Village, our newly renovated mall was our next stop. Since their last visit it has been torn down and rebuilt in the modern genre of a mixed use and open format. Visiting the Hampton Inn and Suites hotel and the AMC Theater were big hits. We of course had a few minutes for shopping before dinner. Dinner was at one of Randhursts new restaurants, The Black Finn, presenting typically American fare. Our day was not yet at an end after dinner we were off to the Mount Prospect Public Library for a tour and public reception. The reception brought in over 100 local residents to meet and greet our French guests. The Library and our Hostess Mary Ann Sibrava provided dessert and greetings from the Library. Barbara Burns Library Board-President greeted our French guests and Board members and community members attended.
Tuesday brought us a sunny warm morning. We met at Village Hall to walk to the Mount Prospect Historical Society for a short visit to their sensory garden on our way to the Mount Prospect Child Care Center, a local private daycare and preschool center. Michael Davey and his family own and operate the center. 40 children from 2 years to 5 years were in attendance. The children sang for us and showed us the newly remodeled play yard. The Mayor of Mount Prospect, Arlene Juracek, accompanied by Chamber of Commerce members did a Ribbon cutting dedicating the new play yard. The visit culminated in a French guest and a teacher reading a book to the children in French and English. The children were divided into two groups by age for the book reading.
The day was lovely and warm so we walked back to Village Hall to board the bus for our next visit. The Bosch Company has a large research and development plant in Mount Prospect. They provided us with a tour, demonstrations of tools and a trip to the Board room for history and a fabulous lunch. They generously provided each visitor a Bosch portfolio to take home. Bosch has a rich history with German roots and socially conscious reputation. Who knew that tools could be so much fun!
After our visit to Bosch we headed to our next stop John Jay Elementary School for a tour and visit with some students. Our delegation was greeted at John Jay by students and the Superintendent, Principal and Chairman of the School Board, Brian Kiel, who had arranged the visit. Fifth grade patrol members were our tour guides accompanied by a staff member. Students were busy working in classrooms. We visited the Library for a short film on the school and some historical information. The school is very proud of its multicultural background and bilingual program. We were able to visit several classrooms.
5th grade students met with the delegation and introduced themselves in French and asked questions of our French guests. It was an amazing sharing and we were all impressed with the hallway decorations and reminders of behavior and values teaching.
Our day is marching on. From John Jay we loaded the bus for the Southside Community Center in Mount Prospect. The Center is a Library branch and health and community service center providing outreach to the Southside of Mount Prospect. The visit was short but provided a peek at outreach to disadvantaged parts of our community. Then back to Village Hall to return to host homes for a short rest and refresh before dinner at a local restaurant, Retro Bistro.
Retro Bistro is our local French restaurant and they provided an elegant and relaxed dinner. Everyone had time to commiserate and chat about the day. There was fine wine, great food and friendship.
Wednesday headed us to Chicago for some sightseeing. We boarded a trolley, The Flying Lady for our drive downtown. It was fun and the rush hour experience.
We arrived at the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue for a Boat tour on the Wendella. We experienced the locks between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River seeing the marvelous skyline of the Lake front with an excellent tour guide explaining what we were seeing. The day was sunny and warm so presented Chicago and all her beauty.
The Locks are also always an interesting navigational experience.
After our boat trip we headed down Michigan Avenue for a 20 minute walk to the John Hancock building and lunch at the Signature room.
The Signature Room is on the 95th floor of the Hancock building. It provides amazing views of the city of Chicago and great food and service. We were in the Chicago room offering great views and a private lunch. Our guests were able to walk around and enjoy the views and chat about all they were seeing. The contrast of the city from the lake and now from the towering Hancock gave a broad perspective of the city of Chicago and all her majesty.
After lunch some time was open for personal sightseeing or shopping at Water Tower place or along Michigan Avenue. The Hersey Chocolate store was a favorite.
The Flying Lady picked us up at 3:15 for a drive down Michigan Avenue past the Bean on our way home to Mount Prospect. Upon our arrival in Mount Prospect we had a break to rest and change prior to a Community Banquet at 7PM.
The Community Banquet was a dinner honoring the Mayor of Sèvres, François Kosciusko-Morizet and our Mayor Arlene Juracek. The banquet was open to the community at large for a fee. Local dignitaries, elected officials and the General Consul of France for Chicago were invited. The Quartet, Current provided American Jazz and Motown music for the event. Cocktails began at 7PM giving attendees time to socialize prior to dinner. A 50/50 Cash raffle was held and two baskets of fine wine were also raffled. The Program consisted of introductions and words from our Sister Cities of Mount Prospect Chairperson, Dorothy Kucera, our Mayor Arlene Juracek and Graham Paul, the General Consul of France in Chicago.
An invocation was presented by Fred Joob, Associate Pastor at Christian Life Church.
After Dessert Service toasts and the gift exchange were held.
Mayor Arlene Juracek gave a toast to François Kosciusko-Morizet and the delegation and the French National Anthem was sung by Fred Joob. Mayor François Kosciusko-Morizet gave a toast to Arlene Juracek and the local Mount Prospect group and the American National anthem was sung by Fred Joob.
Gifts were exchanged between the towns and then individual gifts to each delegation member.
The program ended and music began again and dessert and coffee service continued. The event had approximately 160 attendees.
This was a great opportunity for the French delegation to speak to local community members and to share the rich bonds developed between cities’ who have Sister City relationships.
Thursday most of our guests left in the morning. Two guests remained. The Mayor and a deputy mayor. We arranged a visit to River Trails Middle School on the north side of Mount Prospect. It was a great visit as the middle school program offers a significant change from Elementary. They were able to visit a French class and speak in French and English to our students allowing them to experience native French speakers.
Our last two guests were transported to the airport Thursday evening for return to France. We will visit Sèvres in 2015.