Mr. Lord Mayor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
“Hands across Europe” - so the title of a report by the Tuam Herald from August 31, 1984 on the very first contact between colleges from Straubing to Tuam. At the end of August 1984 Sr. Angela Veit, Principal of the Ursuline Secondary School in Straubing visited Tuam with 6 pupils from her school, at my suggestion, to explore possibilities of a regular school exchange. From this initial “Exchange Visit” regular student exchange visits developed from 1989 on to this year.
This student exchange was and still is the foundation for this town twinning partnership, which was formalised in August and September 1991, both in Straubing and Tuam, so that we now celebrate 25 years of this twinning partnership.
Looking back over these 25 years- and, of course, I was there from the very beginning of this “relationship” between Tuam and Straubing and when I compare what we both had hoped for at the very beginning and now see what has been achieved, I find, that the result is quite positive.
But once more back to the beginning in 1991:
The editorial in The Tuam Herald of Sept. 7, 1991 describes these expectations such: “This week is a historic one for Tuam. We are about to set the seal on a pact of international friendship which unites two towns at opposing ends of the European Community, Tuam and Straubing.....We both face great challenges for the future. Tuam.. on the Western fringe of Europe.. is changing its perspective on Europe of which we are all part... like Straubing is changing its perspective in a newly united Germany....Our mutual friendship should enable us all to see beyond the merely local to the pan-European; it should help our young people to learn each other’s language, culture, attitudes and common ideals; and in its own small way, our friendship should be a mirror of the greater European friendship....”
The Twinning Charters express the same thoughts.
How have we both, Tuam and Straubing, met these aspirations and expectations? The following summary of our Twinning activities should provide the answer:
As I said before it is the Alpha and Omega of our partnership. Since 1989 each year over 30 students form Straubing’s Secondary schools came to Tuam with their teachers for approximately 2 weeks. They stayed with host parents who themselves usually had children of school age.
They got to know not only the beautiful countryside and landscape of Counties Galway, Clare and Mayo; they also got to know characteristics of Irish Culture and traditions as well as the Irish people themselves. They also got a first-hand impression of the Irish School System and of Local Government structures, for example.
But most of all, and I have witnessed it again and again first hand, they got to experience Irish hospitality.
On their visits to Straubing, the Irish students got to know the landscapes of the “Gaeuboden”, Straubing’s fertile and agrarian hinterland as well the countryside of the Bavarian Forest and they, too, got an idea of a different local government structure.