A delegation of 15 people from Gastonia visited Sister City Gotha, Germany the first week in May 2018 to celebrate our 25th Anniversary as a Sister City and the opening of an exhibit of the Schiele Museum called “Gastonia and the Carolina Piedmont.” Among those who made the trip: Mayor Walker Reid, Councilwoman Jennifer Stepp, Councilman Jim Gallagher, City Manager Michael Peoples, Community Services Director Vincent Wong, Sister Cities Director Juliann Lehman, Schiele Museum Director Ann Tippitt and former Sister Cities Director (and former mayor) Jennie Stultz.
“I think the word that comes to mind when I think of our 25-year partnership with Gotha, Germany is friendship,” said Juliann Lehman, director of Gastonia’s Sister Cities program. “It’s about the friendships we have made, the ideas we have exchanged, the laughter we share when we have to muster around the language barrier.”
On May 5, Gotha Mayor Knut Kreuch and Gastonia Mayor Reid signed documents marking the 25th anniversary of the two cities’ connection through the Sister Cities program.
Since 1993, more than 500 Gastonia-area high school students have taken part in an exchange program, giving local teenagers a chance to live for two weeks with a family in Gotha. The German Language and Culture Foundation of Charlotte has contributed $90,000 in scholarships to pay for local students’ trips to Germany.
Through the summer of 2018, Gotha’s museum is hosting a display from the Schiele Museum called “Gastonia and the Carolina Piedmont.” A standing-room-only crowd gathered for the opening of the exhibit on May 4.
A parade through the city's streets marked Gastonia Day on May 5, with many Gotha residents wearing traditional German clothing for the event.
The trip provided Mayor Reid and Gastonia officials an opportunity to strengthen economic ties with several German companies and foster new and deeper friendships.
Sister Cities Director Lehman said the organization's motto, Peace through People, was seen at every event. “We may not speak the same language, but we are all committed to partnerships as we share culture, family values, love and respect for each other and desire for a peaceful world,” she said.