Only the beginning: Snoqualmie’s 2nd sister city status paves the way for new exchanges in education, ideas | Photo Gallery

Jose Calvo, deputy ‘alcalde’ or mayor of Chaclacayo, Peru, embraces Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson after signing the official sister cities agreement between both governments. The deal is meant to spur more international ties and tourism. - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo
Jose Calvo, deputy ‘alcalde’ or mayor of Chaclacayo, Peru, embraces Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson after signing the official sister cities agreement between both governments. The deal is meant to spur more international ties and tourism.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Chaclacayans are a generous people.

Celebrating the moment last Monday, Aug. 26, when their big Peruvian town became an official sister city to Snoqualmie, the delegation from Chaclacayo handed out gifts.

Snoqualmie gave a city flag and key to the city. Chaclacayo responded in kind, but the gifts kept coming— commemorative key rings, a tiny, tooled leather hat, a replica stone head from their indigenous culture, and a full-size flag of the city, which reads “Sun, Friendship and Peace.”

Mayor Matt Larson and Chaclacayo’s deputy mayor, Jose Calvo, jointly put their signatures to the document linking two continents, then proudly sat for photos.

Afterwards, Calvo explains that his city in the Andean foothills is known as the “Sunshine City.”

“We’re known as the Liquid City,” replied Larson.

The mayor and vice-mayor joked that they should export rain and sunshine, respectively.

Calvo made a point of inviting the council to see his home, “where we will receive you with open arms.”

The dream

For Tina McCollum, president of the Snoqualmie Sister Cities Association, Monday’s signing was a dream made real.

“Not a finished dream, by any means, but a dream of two cities, two cultures, coming together,” she said.

Snoqualmie now has two sister cities: Gangjin, in South Korea, and Chaclacayo, a city of 50,000 in the foothills of the Andes.

Through the work of volunteers on the Snoqualmie Sister Cities Association, Snoqualmie partnered with Gangjin in 2009. A flurry of exchanges and visits by residents, civic officials and high school students, followed.

The relationship with Chaclacayo began when McCollum, a Snoqualmie resident, met Ernesto Riedner, a native of Peru, during a University of Washington alumni trip to South America. Their connection led Riedner to tap Chaclacayo as a friendship city candidate. To make official status through Sister Cities International, Snoqualmie and Chaclacayo had to do two exchanges in a year. To date, there’s been four, and they’ve all been excellent, said McCollum.

Both cities have their differences and some similarities—both peoples are warm and friendly, says McCollum,

Snoqualmie’s new sister city is both higher and dryer than its counterpart. Five times the size of Snoqualmie, Chaclacayo is a suburb of Lima with plenty of commuter residents, and is ready to expand its tourism and commerce.

“Two cities, cultures, that are both unknown to each other—they will be knowing each other,” predicted Riedner.

Most Americans, says Riedner, when they think of Peru, think of the ancient Incas, of the lost city of Macchu Picchu. Exchanges mean the real Peru comes to light.

“This is the beginning,” Riedner said. “The signing is the beginning of more and more close work together. The idea is to build a better world.”


Ideally, some day the Snoqualmie Sister Cities Association will expand, Valley-wide. McCollum said it makes sense to include North Bend, Fall City and Carnation.

Before adding any more cities, Snoqualmie will now work on building up its sister-city links.

“Also, there needs to be community involvement,” says McCollum—sponsorships to fund scholarships to get more students overseas.

“To give students from families who can’t afford it, free trips to Korea and Peru, to have a global experience that would change someone’s life—that would be my dream,” she said.

The exchange trips, in which visitors live with host families, is so much more meaningful than a hotel stay.

“That’s the best experience,” says Riedner.

The future holds intercity exchanges—of teachers, students, artists, of job sharing—“any type of exchange that has a mutual interest for each others’ cities,” said McCollum.

The association is reaching out to the school district and residents for ideas to do more.

McCollum says that the people who travel and return become global citizens who learn something about the world, and themselves.

“They make friends for life,” she said. “Their family base expands.”

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Ernesto Riedner, José Calvo, Matt Larson and Jay Rodne (NP) show off the city flags.

Calvo and Larson display their respective keys to the cities.

Kingston Wall, Snoqualmie council member, shows off his gifts—a commemorative keychain and leather mini-hat.

The Snoqualmie City Council joins the Peruvian delegation, lifting flags.

Ernesto Riedner gives his perspective on the new connections being made by sister cities Chaclacayo and Snoqualmie.

Seth Truscott/Staff Photos

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