February is Quezalguaque Library Month

Every Februfulllibraryary the Friends of the Brookline Library donate the proceeds from the book sales at all three libraries to our Sister City library in Quezalguaque, Nicaragua. Over the years these funds help to finance the purchase of new books and equipment for the library. They also provide money to help defray the cost of the mobile library which makes it possible for librarians to visit the remote rural areas in the municipality. Each of the libraries in Brookline has an area where you can purchase books, DVDs, books on CD, music CDs, and magazines. Items are available whenever the library is open.

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Gracias Brookline!

Thank you Brookline and to all those who helped make Brookline Sister City Week a great success!

It seems like a distant memory now but it is only 6 weeks since we hosted 5 guests from Quezalguaque for the 29th Anniversary Celebration of the Brookline Quezalguaque Sister City Project.

Pictured L to R Eddy Calderon, Fabio Borda, Dr. Milagro Baldelomar, Roberto Garcia, Maryuri Ulloa

Pictured L to R
Eddy Calderon, Fabio Borda, Dr. Milagro Baldelomar, Roberto Garcia, Maryuri Ulloa

Our five visitors from Quezalguaque  – four English teachers and the Director of Health, all returned home safely. Unlike the 16 hour trip to the U.S. due to a 3 hour wait to pass through Customs/Immigration in Miami coupled with a 30 minute interview leading them to miss the plane to Boston from Miami, the trip home went smoothly and in less than half the time.

Dr. Milagro Baldelomar and the four visiting teachers showed themselves to be wonderful ambassadors for Quezalguaque and truly curious about Brookline, Massachusetts and the U.S.

The full week for our guests from Quezalguaque included:

  • meetings with the Board of Selectmen, with Town Administrator Mel Kleckner, and department heads at the Brookline Department of Health,
  • -visits to classes at BHS, Driscoll and Runkle, contact with more than 200 Brookline students, and a warm welcome in Spanish from Superintendent Andrew Bott and Interim BHS Headmaster Anthony Meyer,
  • -meetings about water quality with the Sister City Medical Committee and with Betsy Reilley, the MWRA Director of Environmental Quality who presented at the Coolidge Corner Science on Screen program about water quality as an issue in developing and developed countries,
  • -visits to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Paul’s Church, All Saints Parish, and to Temple Ohabei Shalom (TOS).   At TOS, it was the first time that any of them had been inside a Jewish house of worship, met a Rabbi or witnessed a Jewish service.
  • -Dr. Baldelomar toured some of Boston’s health institutions and made a visit to the Codman Square Health Center.
  • -the teachers visited classes at Boston University and its Center for English Language & Orientation Program.

The visitors actively participated in a Celebración de Brookline e Hispanoamerican Poetry that kicked off the week and those of us fortunate enough to be in attendance not only heard from Brookline’s current and former Poet Laureates but also learned about and heard poetry by Rubén Dario.

Two of the visiting teachers (Robert Garcia and Eddy Calderon) performed Nicaragua Nicaraguita, a beautiful love song to Nicaragua and its people.   Click here to see video.

All this would not have been possible without the significant support and time of many volunteers. The Sister City Project has no paid staff and receives no government funding.

Our thanks to the eight restaurants: Athan’s Bakery, El Centro, La Bottega di Capri, The Fireplace, La Morra, La Voile, Rifrullo Cafe & Vine Ripe Grill  that participated in the Sister City “A Taste of Brookline,” to the 84 individual and organizational sponsors, to the five host families, to Margery Eagan of WGBH, Governor Michael Dukakis and Stephen Kinzer for their participation and to many others that made this first ever visit of Quezalguaque teachers and the newly appointed health director in Quezalguaque such a success.

Mil gracias!

Chobee Hoy, Chair-2016 Celebration Committee

Richard Segan, President-Board of Directors
Brookline Quezalguaque Sister City Project

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Quezalguaque English Teachers & BHS Teachers

Pictured L to R: Teacher Fabio Borda, Sister City Bd members Stacey Downey & Peter Moyer, Teacher Maryuri Ulloa, BHS Chair World Language Dept. Agnes Alberola, Teachers Roberto Garcia & Eddy Calderon, Dr. Milagro Baldelomar & BHS Global Leadership Teacher Ben Kahrl

Pictured L to R:
Teacher Fabio Borda, Sister City Bd members Stacey Downey & Peter Moyer, Teacher Maryuri Ulloa, BHS Chair World Language Dept. Agnes Alberola, Teachers Roberto Garcia & Eddy Calderon, Dr. Milagro Baldelomar & BHS Global Leadership Teacher Ben Kahrl

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Sister City Week Poetry Event

Photos by Dodie Catlett

Photos by Dodie Catlett

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Stringhams Honored for Years of Service to BQSCP

BrooklineHubOctober 3, 2016

peterjeanBrookline Sister City Week kicks off October 16, celebrating 29 years of making people-to-people connections with the community in Quezalguaque, Nicaragua. The highlight of the week will be an October 20 fundraiser with Gov. Michael Dukakis and New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer honoring longtime Sister City supporters Jean & Peter Stringham.

Jean Stringham was the Sister City Project’s first treasurer and served on the Board for 10 years. Later, Dr. Peter Stringham joined the Board and after more than 15 years of service continues to be very active having most recently served for 6 years as Chair of the Medical Committee dealing with issues such as the epidemic of chronic kidney disease and the Zika outbreak in the Central American community.

The Brookline Sister City relationship began over 30 years ago when Brookline teacher Maxine Shaw traveled to Quezalguaque to teach in a one-room school house. She wrote home to friends about the limited resources in the community. Because of a growing interest in supporting the needs of the Nicaraguan community, the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting voted to establish the sister city relationship.

“The Sister City relationship is a partnership in which we learn from each other,” said Richard Segan, president of the Brookline Quezalguaque Sister City Project Board of Directors (BQSCP). “More than 250 people from our community have visited Quezalguaque over the years. It is a cultural and educational exchange. We’ve also partnered with the Quezalguaque community in a wide range of areas largely in response to their suggestions. We hope we’ve contributed in some small ways to address unmet needs. Our primary areas of partnership have been in education, health care, and housing.”

Many initiatives currently supported by the organization includes creating a mobile library, supporting special needs education, creating an arts program, providing better health care access, and building the first computer classroom in the region. Despite being created by a vote by the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting, BQSCP receives no government funding. All of these initiatives are funded by Brookline residents and with contributions from many community groups like Brookline Rotary, All Saints Parish and the Friends of Brookline Libraries.

Recent discussions about immigration from Latin America has created division in many communities across America. However, Segan said BQSCP has actually done a good job of bringing together Americans and Nicaraguans.

“Those of us who have had the good fortune to be able to spend time in Quezalguaque quickly learn that the population aspires to many of the same things that people want in our community, e.g., quality education for their children, access to health care, safe drinking water, etc,” Segan said. “Perhaps if more people had opportunities like we have had to share people-to-people experiences, there would be less fear and more understanding of those fleeing from unstable societies.”

Dr. Milagro Baldelomar, director of health services in Quezalguaque, and four teachers from the Nicaraguan community have been invited to attend Brookline Sister City Week. Dr. Baldelomar will work with BQSCP on many initiatives to improve health care delivery, including care for chronic kidney disease (CKD), a leading cause of death in Quezalguaque.

Also part of Brookline Sister Cities Week, there will be a Science on Screen program at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on October 17 which will focus on water security issues worldwide and a program on Brookline and Latin American poetry on October 16 at Center Communities of Brookline.

The organization plans to continue building these people-to-people relationships in the near future with more focus on education, health care, student/teacher exchanges and other priorities between the two communities.

“Most importantly, we hope to continue to contribute in a small way to global understanding,” Segan said. “The direct face-to-face contact afforded via the Sister City Project is incredibly educational and also rewarding for the participants.”

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