MUSCATINE — On Sunday, three benches were dedicated at Muscatine’s International Friendship Park on Cedar and Eighth Street. The benches will have inscriptions to Catherine Miller, Marlyn Schepers, and Betty and Max Stanley.
John Dabeet, Muscatine Sister Cities President and Sister Cities international board of directors member, said the park has come a long way since the beginning. In 2013, Dabeet was part of a delegation the visited Ramallah in the Palestinian Territories. There they visited the Garden of Nations Park where there were sections dedicated to each sister city Ramallah had.
Over the course of the past half decade, the Sister Cities program has worked to get the park built.
“We will formally dedicate three of the four benches to thank these families for dedicating the money to these beautiful benches and to the park,” Dabeet said.
Muscatine has nine sister cities around the world. These include Crespo, Argentina; Drohobych, Ukraine; Ichikawadaimon, Japan; Kislovodsk, Russia; Lomza, Poland; Ludwigslust, Germany; Parana, Argentina; Ramallah, Palestinian Territories; and Zhengding, China.
"It is very important right now that we remember our sister cities," Dabeet said. "Globalization, in a positive way, is an important aspect of our daily lives. Think about everything we buy. Or everything we do. Or everything we use. There is some sort of international flavor to it. This is about remembering that."
In the future, Dabeet said the Muscatine Sister Cities program hopes to improve on the park by collecting an item from each of Muscatine's sister cities and put them on display. Dabeet hopes to use these items and brief description of them to better understand the culture that created them.
"We want this park to be an educational park and for that reason at the next stage, we want to collect an item from each of our sister cities to learn about those cities," Dabeet said. "We are going to put a brief description next to the item so that people when they stop there have the ability to learn about each of our sister cities. Something that adds to the corner of Muscatine so when visitors come to Muscatine, they can learn about our relationships internationally."
Dabeet said that the mission of the Sister Cities program is more relevant now than ever.
“Understanding and building bridges of peace across nations is more important than war or hate,” Dabeet said. “We are becoming one. We see those political borders on a map, but we depend on each other. We learn from each other. We help each other. It is important for us in Muscatine to be a part of that so that we remember first and foremost that we are all human beings. Respect and understanding becomes a very important issue for all of us to practice.”