According to Sister Cities International, the program was introduced at a White House conference by President Eisenhower in 1956. The idea is for individual sister cities, counties, and states across the United States to link up with the citizens of other countries in an effort to bring about citizen diplomacy. Sister Cities International’s member programs focus on four main areas of exchange: arts and culture, youth and education, business and trade, and community development and technical exchange to connect citizens around the globe.
“It’s not just the signing of a proclamation. It’s the things we can do together in the future,” Dr. Andrea Canepari, Consul General of Italy in Philadelphia said of the new relationship between the towns. “We can open doors for new opportunities in technology, the arts, science. The possibilities are endless.” Canepari recently visited Toms River for a meeting about the partnership. “I think this will be a great partnership between the two cities and a great exchange of culture and history,” Cav. Mario Marano, commissioner of the New Jersey and Italian American Heritage Commission said. “What a wonderful opportunity for residents in Toms River to develop relationships with residents of Matera, Italy. We hope this partnership will blossom into both cultural and economic ties in the future,” Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher said.
Council President Jeff Carr said Matera has been selected as the European Culture Capital of 2019. “This will certainly be an opportunity to improve and increase the cultural awareness of both Toms River and Ocean County,” Carr said.