Thursday, January 12, 2012

Daytona State Fulbright Scholar in Residence arranges Sister Cities match

Carlos Robles
Volusia County and the city of Diamantina, Minas Gerais, Brazil, have officially become sister cities thanks to the efforts of a Brazilian Fulbright Scholar in Residence at Daytona State College who spearheaded the initiative.
The Sister Cities Association of Volusia County voted unanimously Wednesday evening to approve the agreement. The designation opens the door for the county and its municipalities to establish new mutually beneficial business, professional and educational partnerships with Diamantina, particularly in the areas of tourism, conventions and academic exchange programs, according to Carlos Robles, the Fulbright Scholar in Residence who arrived at Daytona State last fall for a year of teaching in the college’s School of Modern Languages.
“This is an important step in starting cultural, academic and business activities between Volusia County and Diamantina,” he said. “Brazil has become a major business partner with Florida, and the hope is that this sister cities relationship will help bring some of those opportunities and jobs to the county.”
Robles also pointed to the cultural benefits of the sister cities partnership and how it has the potential to bolster each locale as a tourism destination.
“We are very pleased to add Diamantina, Brazil, as a sister city,” said Dixie Blake, president of the association. “Currently, Campeche, Mexico, and Bayonne, France, are sister cities and provide many opportunities for exchange, be it cultural, business or academic. We look forward to the same opportunities with Diamantina and the development of new global friendships as our mission states.”

Diamantina has a population of about 50,000 and is located approximately 180 miles north of the state capital, Belo Horizonte, in a mountainous area that is bordered by the Jequitinhonha River. The city was built during the colonial era in the early 18th century and was a center for diamond mining for nearly 200 years. With its well-preserved Baroque buildings and architectural landmarks, the city is designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It has a rich musical heritage and also is an important academic research center led by the Federal University of the Valleys of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri. Diamantina is situated along Brazil’s Estrada Real, a centuries-old route built by Brazil’s Portuguese colonists to transport gold and minerals from the country’s interior to the coast for transport to Lisbon. The mostly unpaved road today leads tourists through the cradle of Brazilian culture.
Robles is organizing a weeklong symposium on Brazil scheduled in March to be hosted by Daytona State. County Council Chairman Frank Bruno and the mayors of Diamantina and Volusia’s municipalities, as well as the governor of Minas Gerais, are being invited to attend the symposium to formally sign the sister cities agreement. Representatives from 10 Florida colleges and universities, as well as Brazilian cultural and business leaders, also will participate in the activities, which will feature sessions on educational exchanges, Brazilian dance and culture, modern landscaping, Portuguese language, and various business opportunities.
For more information contact Robles at