Wichita Isn't an Only Child
What do Cancun, Mexico; Orleans, France; Kaifeng, China and Tlalnepantla, Mexico all have in common? Each one is a Sister City to Wichita.
Sister Cities International is a nonprofit organization that serves to facilitate relationships between international communities. And get this! The program was founded by native Kansan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower!
Sister Cities are a long-term partnership between two communities in two countries. This relationship is recognized when the highest elected official in each city signs an agreement to become a Sister City with its counterpart. A Sister City relationship promotes peace through people-to-people relationships, and offers a variety of interactions, like trade agreements, cultural exchange programs and even shared research projects between cities.
Sister city relationships can be developed in a number of ways, such as existing mayoral relationships, historical connections, trade relationships, faith-based groups and more.
Wichita has four sister cities in three countries. Here’s a look at each of our sister cities.
Kaifeng became a Wichita sister city in 1985. Located in between Bei Jing and Hong Kong, Kaifeng covers 6,444 square kilometers. Of these, only 359 square kilometers are urban, according to travelchinaguide.com. The city has a population of 5,270,000. Kaifeng experiences four distinct seasons much like we do, and the annual average temperature in Kaifeng is 57 degrees, while ours comes close at 56.65 degrees. Maybe that means their weather changes every five minutes, too!
How to experience Kaifeng in Wichita?
Having a Sister City means sharing a bond with an international community, but that can be hard when your counterpart is over 7,000 miles away. (I’m looking at you, Kaifeng.)
Fortunately, you don’t have to travel across the word to get a taste of Kaifeng, you can do it right here in Wichita. The Chinese Garden of Friendship at Botanica was built in honor of our Sister City! The garden is filled with structures and elements that reflect Chinese culture, a Treasure Dragon Wall, Asian-style pavilions, a mural depicting life in the area that is now Kaifeng.
The garden was designed in two parts, the south side, which is known as the “earthly world” that depicts an area where people live, work and experience day-to-day life and other worldly things. The garden’s north side represents the “heavenly world” or “dream world.” This scenic and peaceful area features a waterfall, a Friend Pavilion, a stream and more to make the guests feel as though they are in their own dream world.
Botanica also has future plans to develop gardens in honor of our other Sister Cities, according to Craig Davis, Director of Marketing and Communication for the gardens.
Wichita gained Orleans, France as a sister in 1973. The City of Orleans, France is 7,599 miles away from Wichita. Located 120 kilometers south of Paris, Orleans is the capital of the Loriet department. Situated on about six-and-a-half square miles and home to roughly 114, 200 people, Orleans much smaller than Wichita or Kaifeng. Much like Wichita, Orleans sees its lowest temperatures in January and December, and the heat peaks in July and August. They have much milder seasons than we do, though, with average low temperatures in the thirties in January and average high temperatures under eighty degrees in July and August.
How to experience Orleans in Wichita?
If you can’t find the time for a trip to France, maybe you can pencil in a trip to Wichita’s Delano District. La Galette Café and Bakery is located in the heart of Delano on the south side of Douglas, and it brings a taste of France to our city. The restaurant’s name comes for the French term “Galette,” which refers to a type of French cakes. Here you’ll find Parisian art and cuisine that will sweep you away to Orleans’s home country. The restaurant serves quiches, sandwiches, and all kinds of pastries and bakery Items. If you’ve never visited before, you’re missing out!
Cancun officially became Wichita's sister city in 1975. We’ve all heard about Cancun, right? White, sandy beaches. Clear blue water. Palm trees. This popular tourism destination is also a Sister City to Wichita, and it’s just 2,290 miles south of us. Cancun has a population of nearly 630,000 people, and the city rests on 764 square miles. Cancun experiences just two seasons each year: wet and dry. With the average highest temperature in June at a breezy 82 degrees, and the lowest temperature in January at 73 degrees, it’s never too hot or too cold—at least, not for a Wichitan!
Wichita's sister city since 1973, Tlalnepantla occupies just over 32 square miles in Mexico. With a population of just under 4,000, this is our smallest Sister City. Tlalnepantla is 2,353 miles away from Wichita. Much like in Cancun, the weather is pretty mild in Tlalnepantla, with an average temperature of 59 degrees in January and topping out at an average of 67 degrees in May.
How to Experience Mexico in Wichita?
In the Midwest, Mexico is pretty muck known for one thing, and that's delicious food. Hopefully our partnership with Cancun and Tlalnepantla will broaden our knowledge of Mexico and it's culture, but when there's a plate of tacos in front of me, its hard to think about much else.
To get a taste of Mexico (literally!) check out some of Wichita's favorite Mexican restaurants.