The New Paltz International Exchange Association (NPIEA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of their sister city relationship with Osa, a small town in Japan. The bond was formed nearly three decades ago in 1998 and still continues to this day.
According to Susan Sherburne, secretary of the NPIEA, the bond was originally created when former New Paltz Mayor Tom Nyquist and his wife Corinne visited Niimi. In return, Kazumi Umeda, the Mayor of Osa at that time, visited New Paltz.
The Village of New Paltz website states that “Osa, Shingo, Tetta, Tesei and Niimi were merged into one political entity called Niimi City.” Following this change, the committee noted that this can be compared to the “merging of the Village of New Paltz, the Town of New Paltz, Gardiner, and Highland with the City of Poughkeepsie and calling it Poughkeepsie City”
Sister Cities International describes a sister city as “a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two [different] countries.” Additionally on their “About Us” page, the international resource states that “each sister city organization is independent and pursues the activities and thematic areas that are important to them and their community including municipal, business, trade, educational and cultural exchanges and projects with their sister city.” This type of relationship between two towns or cities enables each of them to strengthen and uplift one another through collaboration and communication.
According to the New Paltz Sister City Committee, Niimi and New Paltz had similar features, such as their population, geography and having shared several common concerns. Osa is a town located in the southwest region of a large Japanese island called Honshu, west of Osaka. Niimi is also similar in landscape to New Paltz, considering they are both nestled away in the mountains. Niimi and the surrounding towns have tourist attractions such as the Maki Cave, Naru Falls and Joyama Park. Likewise, New Paltz is home to the Lemon Squeeze, Mohonk Mountain House and Minnewaska State Park.
On Oct. 17, 2019, The Oracle wrote about Japanese exchange students visiting our campus here at SUNY New Paltz. Previously, around 15 years ago, students from Osa Junior High visited New Paltz Middle School and New Paltz Middle School students visited Osa Junior High, alternating each year. This exchange was created between SUNY New Paltz and Niimi College.
In the years since then, Niimi College has been visiting SUNY Ulster and SUNY Ulster is working on planning a trip to Niimi College.
On May 4, 2023, Hudson Valley One released an article by Sherburne, in which she discusses the relationship between the two cities. “It is important for people around the world to interact with one another. We have more things in common with our friends in Japan than we have differences. We would like to grow the sister city relationship by getting more New Paltz folks involved to keep this relationship sustainable for the future,” said Sherburne.
Mid Hudson News quoted on Oct. 7 “‘We anticipate a bright future for the relationship between New Paltz and Niimi as we continue our international friendship,’ the local committee members said.”