RANGOON — Mon State’s Moulmein and Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the United States became sister cities in an effort to promote friendship and positive exchange between the communities, according to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on Thursday.
Municipal Minister Dr. Toe Toe Aung of Burma’s Mon State and Ms. Dorothy Kittaka, chairwoman of Fort Wayne Sister Cities International, signed the MOU in Moulmein.
Burma has multiple sister city relationships with other countries; most recently, Rangoon formalized its friendship with South Korea’s Busan when they became “sisters” in 2013.
Fort Wayne already has four sister cities: Takaoka, Japan; Plock, Poland; Gera, Germany; and Taizhou, China.
Burma and the United States began discussions on adding a fifth sister city to Fort Wayne in 2012; the Burmese government recently approved the agreement, according to a report in the Global New Light of Myanmar which quoted Mon State Chief Minister Ohn Myint.
Ohn Myint said that there will be exchange of education, business and culture between the two cities. Moulmein and Fort Wayne will host an education exchange for students in 2017 as its first joint program.
The purpose of formalizing the sister city relationship is to create and strengthen partnerships between communities in different countries, and the pairing of communities is often determined by their similarities.
Fort Wayne was an early destination for those leaving Burma after the country’s 1988 uprising, with Fort Wayne’s first wave of resettled Burmese refugees arriving in 1991. Today around 6,000 people of Burmese descent live in the northern Indiana city of over 250,000 and it is home to the United States’ only Burmese mosque.