The City Council formally selected Alba, Italy as Medford's Sister City by passage of Resolution No. 1011 on February 18, 1960.
This affiliation was initiated under the "People-to-People" Program inaugurated by President Eisenhower in 1959 to promote greater friendship and understanding between the peoples of the United States and other nations through the medium of direct personal contact.
Alba, Italy was selected as Medford's Sister City because of its many similar characteristics to Medford, including location, environment, climate, agricultural economy, and other mutual interests. The relationship has led to a long and lasting friendship between the peoples of both cities.
While the Mayor and City Council recognize and support the Sister City Program, the Alba Sister City Committee is an otherwise independent organization. The Commission has adopted its own bylaws, rules and procedures, and selects its own chairman. Any interested person has the opportunity to become a member.
The Committee has been active in promoting and carrying out numerous people exchanges between Alba and Medford, which have enhanced this friendship link. Official correspondence, holiday greetings, and letters of introduction for persons visiting Alba are coordinated through the Mayor's Office. The Committee, through the City of Medford, is a member of Sister Cities International, which serves as a resource center and consultant on sister city programs throughout the United States.
2010 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Medford, Oregon and Alba, Italy coming together as sister cities. This milestone is remarkable not only for the half century longevity of the union but for the impact that five decades of friendship and interaction have had on both cities and their citizens.
The link between Medford and Alba was the result of President Dwight Eisenhower’s “People to People” program. At a time when the United States had emerged as the most powerful and influential western nation, the phrases “Ugly American” and “Yankee Go Home” were all too frequently heard. President Eisenhower realized that in the post-war world people of all nations needed to have a greater understanding of their counterparts across the globe. At a time when communicating across oceans was much more of a challenge than it is now, Eisenhower sought to bring people together to build friendships and foster better understanding among very different cultures.
The Medford-Alba link established in 1960 was one of the earliest such unions and was indeed unique. While many American cities were pairing up with Pacific Rim cities with the intent of promoting commerce, Medford’s mayor, John Snider, took a very different approach. Tasked with choosing which foreign city among several candidates would be Medford’s partner, he based his choice on factors that he believed would lead to deep and lasting bonds between the two communities and promote personal and family friendships which would become the heart of the union.
Alba and Medford shared some essential traits. Both cities had nearly the same population and both were the centers of flourishing agricultural regions. Both cities enjoyed remarkably similar temperate climates due to their proximity to the sea. The two cities were similarly located in large river valleys surrounded by scenic foothills and the mountains beyond them. Their differences in language, culture and history were not barriers but gifts that they would come to share and appreciate.
The city councils of both cities agreed with the pairing and Medford and Alba were officially sister cities. The first timid steps taken to get to know each other were critical and, as it turned out, quite fortuitous. The first ambassador from Alba to Medford was Giuseppe ” Dutto, a twenty-six year old economist who spoke excellent English and had a great appreciation of all things American. He arrived in Medford after a transcontinental bus ride and quickly confirmed that, for Medford, Alba had been an excellent choice. Pino was the first of many such ambassadors who brought the two cities ever closer together.
When the first telecommunications satellite, Telstar, was launched in 1962, several American cities were invited to inaugurate the revolutionary technology. Medford was the only northwest city selected to participate in a satellite telephone call with its sister city. Mayor Osvaldo Cagnasso of Alba and Mayor John Snider of Medford spoke with each other for the first time via satellite. In Alba, over 5,000 people gathered in the city’s civic plaza to hear the conversation over loudspeakers installed for the event. The two mayors were later to become great friends after meeting face to face in their respective cities.
The program took on a whole new dimension in 1985 when the first formal student exchanges began. The biannual event where Medford schools and Alba schools host contingents from their sister cities has been instrumental in strengthening the ties between our two cities. These journeys have been life changing to the outstanding students selected to participate. They have forged lifelong friendships and brought entire families together. Both communities and their schools have benefitted from the experiences these young ambassadors have shared and brought home. Some of the students represent the third generation of their families that have connected with Alba and the fourth generation will soon be joining them.
The world is a very different place today than it was fifty years ago. Since Medford and Alba joined hands there have been eleven U.S. presidents. Men have taken their first steps beyond the planet and technology has made the geographic distance between us seem insignificant. We have shared with our friends in Alba the triumphs and tragedies that we have shared as a nation. We have been able to see ourselves through the eyes of dear friends who may not always agree with us but whose friendship is unconditional.
BE INFORMED! BE INVOLVED! BE INTERNATIONAL!