More than 6,000 miles away, on the southern coast of France, there’s a rose named after Newport Beach. In 1990, officials in Antibes, France—which is known informally as the “rose capital” of Europe—announced the creation of this new flower honoring our beach community. Meanwhile, across the pond, Newport Beach leaders dedicated a rose garden in front of City Hall to the Mediterranean port village.
This year, Newport celebrates the quarter-century milestone of its relationship with Antibes. Managed through the Newport Beach Sister City Association (NBSCA), the partnership between the two cities allows locals to understand international lifestyles through student and business exchange programs, hosted stays and cultural awareness events.
“In this era of citizen diplomacy and global understanding, our sister city programs become an excellent vehicle for expanding awareness of the world around us. They provide opportunities for our city’s citizens to participate in personal experiences with those of other cultures.”
—NBSCA President Liddy Paulsen
Launched in 1984, the nonprofit NBSCA seeks out partnerships with cities that have much in common with Newport in terms of statistics or character. In addition to Antibes—which shares a similar population of approximately 80,000 and a designation as a resort community with the largest pleasure harbor in its area—other relationships extend to Okazaki, Japan, and Ensenada, Mexico. Each city has its own committee in the NBSCA that organizes events, such as international holiday celebrations, exchanges and delegation visits.
As Cherri Penne-Myers, the Antibes committee chair, recalls her trips abroad, one evening in particular stands out: She was brought to a dinner party where everyone was required to speak only French, a hard task since she was new to the language.
“That was a tough evening for me,” Cherri says, adding that it was still a growth experience. “Thank goodness for one of my Antibes friends who, on occasion, would translate something secretly to me.”
Similarly, high school senior Sophie Smith became a study abroad student with NBSCA and visited Antibes for the first time in 2010. Although she previously traveled to northern France with her family during their summer vacations, spending time in a new part of the country was an eye-opening experience.
“Not only did I get to see a new part of France, but I made lifelong friends with the other students on the trip and with my host family, who I have now visited three times,” Sophie says. “I also had the opportunity to exercise my leadership skills, as I was one of the only exchange students who spoke French fluently, allowing me to act as a translator while helping students from both countries learn the other language.”
Newport locals aren’t the only individuals who have a chance to explore different cultures. This summer, our city played host to a delegation from Antibes. Over the Fourth of July, local officials guided the group through a tour of City Hall and the Newport Beach Public Library’s central branch, special receptions and a harbor cruise, commemorating the milestone in the only way this city knows how—with style, class and fellowship.
—Written by Peter Balaskas