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Cumberland celebrates Maryland-Estonia Sister City program success

Cumberland celebrates Maryland-Estonia Sister City program success

By Karl Altau

Posted 6/27/2014


(Washington, DC) – On June 19, the City of Cumberland Maryland hosted a reception to celebrate their one-year partnership with the Estonian city of Viljandi. To mark the occasion, an exhibit by Estonian artist Pusa (Piret Bergmann), was displayed at Cumberland’s City Hall. Officials from the City of Cumberland, including Mayor Brian Grim, were on hand to welcome guests and to help commemorate the occasion.

Cumberland and Viljandi agreed, in their June 2013 signing via Skype, to mutually explore opportunities to raise cross-cultural awareness and seek beneficial areas of cooperation. The relationship between Cumberland and Viljandi was initiated through Maryland’s Sister State program with Estonia. Interlocutors with the Maryland Estonia Exchange Council (MEEC) have supported the program and the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) has worked in close collaboration with MEEC in furthering ties between Maryland and Estonia.

The state partnership between Maryland and Estonia was forged 21 years ago in 1993 between the Maryland National Guard and Estonia’s defense forces via what is now called the National Guard State Partnership Program. It is one of 22 European partnerships with U.S. states designed to enhance cooperation. Similarly, Michigan developed ties with Latvia, and Pennsylvania with Lithuania.

In May 2009, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland signed a Sister State Agreement with partners in Estonia to further this relationship. The Maryland and Estonia relationship has expanded significantly over the years to also involve ties in education, culture, and economic development. In addition to Cumberland, there are over half a dozen Maryland cities with “twin cities” throughout Estonia, including Annapolis-Tallinn, Salisbury-Tartu, Oakland-Valga, La Plata-Jõgeva, and Bel Air-Narva.


The exhibit of Pusa’s art in Cumberland, entitled “The Undiscovered World. The Secret of Lacebird,” was presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia and is now on display at Frostburg State University’s Stephanie Ann Roper Gallery until July 24. The reception was hosted by Cumberland’s Mayor and City Council and Frostburg State University’s Department of Visual Arts. Attendees included representatives from the Estonian Embassy in Washington, DC, the World Artists’ Experience, MEEC, and Karl Altau and Lita Juberte from JBANC.


JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association in the U.S., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.


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