romanian daily

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September 05, 2005

Royal Palm Beach names Romanian town as sister city

ROYAL PALM BEACH — Point to Calarasi, Romania, on a map.

Anyone? Anyone?

Well, then, introductions are in order. Because once everything is official, residents of Royal Palm Beach, Calarasi will be your sister city!

The idea was initiated by a Calarasi resident here visiting his son Cristian David, who has lived in Bella Terra for three years. Cristian fled to the United States in 1991.

"Romania was hopeless, at least in my opinion,"

David said.

But his father, Aurel David, 69, still lives there.

"He thought of having an exchange of people and ideas between the two places," Cristian David said of his dad.

Calarasi is still trying to bounce back after decades of communist rule, David said. Apparently, that takes a while.

"If you live 50 years under someone who tells you what to do all the time, it's kind of hard," David said. "They've just started to move things more visibly toward another way of life."

Cristian David said he watched as his father marveled at the new, sprawling developments — with houses of warm, contrasting colors and equally tidy lawns.

"There's good and bad in development in my opinion," Cristian David said. "But to him, it's all good. He saw the developed land and said 'Wow.' "

So, a few months back, Aurel and Cristian David went to the village council and asked that Royal Palm Beach become a sister city with Calarasi. The village council said sure, why not?

Councilwoman Carmela Starace, who sits on the international board for both the Florida League of Cities and the National League of Cities, agreed Calarasi was an unusual choice. Romania is, after all, also the home of the mythical vampire Dracula and his Transylvanian castle.

Starace recalled that Aurel David said, with his son interpreting, that Calarasi was looking for "a cultural exchange."

Plus, Starace said, "they could use some of our expertise in engineering and infrastructure."

"We have to look at the global economics of things to come, especially with all this outsourcing," Starace said. "Even in my little city, if the businesses thrive, its good for residents. We have to start thinking globally."

And the relationship isn't always one-sided, said Ami Nieberger-Miller, a spokeswoman with Sister Cities International.

Nieberger-Miller said when Amesbury, Mass., — a town of about 14,000 — became sister cities with Esabalu, Kenya, most folks thought 'that's interesting.' But the relationship between the two villages really thrived.

Health care workers from both countries have taken turns visiting one another. Amesbury officials held public lectures and slide shows about Kenya. And people in both countries became somewhat knowledgeable about a land they previously knew nothing about.

"There are lots of ways these relations benefit," Nieberger-Miller said. "It's not fair to say it's lopsided. How do you put a dollar figure on people better understanding the world?"



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