State College Plans To Form Ukrainian ‘Sister City’ Partnership

State College is on track to partner with Nizhyn, Ukraine, as its first “sister city.”

On Monday, March 6, the State College Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution to endorse the relationship. Borough Council President Jesse Barlow and Mayor Ezra Nanes shared that borough resident Svitlana Budzhak-Jones was crucial in organizing this effort.

The borough can’t officially approve this relationship, but it intends to establish it “as soon as reasonably possible.”

“This is a resolution of the Borough of State College endorsing a sister city relationship with Nizhyn, Ukraine,” Barlow said. “This is actually asking our government to act by the council. We still have to go through the steps of certifying this.”

Nizhyn is a war-ridden city about 70 miles northeast of Kyiv. Just like State College, it houses a university. The resolution is intended to broaden ties between State College and the Ukrainian city.

“The purpose of a Sister City relationship is to enhance a peaceful friendly connection between people of different nations; expand humanitarian aid; further cultural, agricultural, and faith-based exchange; and extend educational linkages for youth and adults for both cities and to increase awareness of both cities as being growth cities in the sectors of connected liberal arts, life sciences, agriculture, creative arts, tourism, and financial services,” the resolution reads.

The borough can’t directly provide funds to Nizhyn, but it can highlight fundraisers and form a long-term partnership with it. The Borough Council encouraged folks to aid its local humanitarian relief organization Sister’s Sister and other legitimate organizations.

“The mayor has already communicated with me and sent me a holiday card. It was very lovely, and we’ve done the same,” Nanes said. “But, the substance and the body of this comes from the community and all of the neighborhoods, and that is why we’re really able to undertake this with full intention to support a war-torn city and hopefully grow from our relationship with them.”

Yuliya Ladygina, a Penn State assistant professor of Slavic and Global and International Studies and Ukrainian student club advisor, expressed her excitement about the partnership to the council.

“This is really an important move, a historical move, and we’re really looking forward to developing and helping you develop relationships with the city of Nizhyn,” Ladygina said. “And in these days, it’s really very meaningful that our town stands by Ukrainians in their fight for freedom.”

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower emphasized personal diplomacy in the 1960s, which first popularized the concept of sister cities. Currently, the Sister Cities International nonprofit includes programs in 500 communities that establish connections across the globe.

State College residents have strongly expressed their support of Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia. Last month, Sister’s Sister held a benefit concert at the State Theatre and community members gathered at the Allen Street Gates to mark the one-year anniversary of the war.

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About the Author

McKenna Murphy

McKenna is a second-year agricultural science major from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She is a Disney enthusiast, a proud ginger, and an iced coffee addict. You can follow her on Instagram @mckenna.murph or email her at [email protected].

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