A four-person delegation of officials from Baumholder, Germany visited Delaware recently to formalize a sister city partnership that grew from a 20-year relationship with an Ohio Wesleyan University sports team. During the visit the guests established relationship with local government, business, and educational leaders, and visited the OWU campus.
Since about 1990, the OWU Men’s Soccer team has traveled to Baumholder every three years to participate in friendship games. This relationship, combined with support from Colonel Paul Pfahler of Delaware, former commander of the 12,000 member U. S. Army garrison located in Baumholder, led to Baumholder seeking the sister city partnership with Delaware.
“Baumholder is a small town,” says Jay Martin, Ph.D., head coach of the OWU Men’s Soccer team. “When the team travels there, we are embraced by the whole town. We have had families that have hosted players five different times. I have seen young children in Baumholder grow up to be young adults. For the two weeks we are there, we are ‘Baumholder People’. It has always been a relationship that goes beyond a normal visit.”
In addition to touring city and area facilities and attending the annual Delaware Arts Festival, the delegation spent a significant amount of time at Ohio Wesleyan University. Ohio Wesleyan Associate Professor of Modern Foreign Languages Thomas Wolber Ph.D. and Martin took the group on a long walking tour of campus. Since they were here during Alumni Weekend, they were invited to attend the Blues and Barbeque event and the All-Alumni Luncheon.
Baumholder Mayor Peter Lang and Delaware Mayor Gary Milner signed the joint resolution establishing the partnership during a public ceremony on Friday that included a standing-room-only crowd.
“What began as a friendship is now a deep friendship,” Milner said. “Through cultural, educational and commercial exchanges, both sides are committed to strengthening the ties between our two cities and two countries.”
Martin added these observations: “Colleges and Universities are very different in Europe. They are responsible only for academics—no extracurricular activities at all. Our German friends were surprised to see and hear about the breadth of experiences available at OWU! They thought the campus was beautiful and was well situated near downtown. It was nice to show them around for a change. They have been showing OWU students around for twenty years!”
The two cities will focus on creating an educational and interactive environment for networking, sharing best practices, and engaging elected officials.
Martin and the OWU Men’s Soccer team look forward to returning to Baumholder in 2013 for more friendship games competition.