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Ann Arbor welcomes Tubingen, Germany, delegates to mark 50 years of friendship

After arriving and spending five days exploring and learning more about Ann Arbor, a delegation from Tübingen, Germany, enjoyed its final day here before flying back across the Atlantic.

The delegates, nearly two dozen altogether, including community and business leaders and others, are in town to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Ann Arbor and Tübingen that started in 1965.

A university town claiming the youngest average age of any German city, Tübingen is in many ways similar to Ann Arbor. The two towns have sent delegates to visit and learn from one another on a number of occasions over the years.

Members of the delegation here this week, as well as members of their host families and other guests, met at the Washtenaw Dairy on Tuesday morning for a walking tour of the Old West Side led by local historian Grace Shackman.

Winding up and down streets throughout the historic neighborhood west of downtown, Shackman relayed stories of Ann Arbor's early German settlers in the 1800s, including the houses they built, and the churches and businesses they started. The tour ended at the Kempf House Museum next to Liberty Plaza downtown.

"In 1824, Ann Arbor was founded by people from the East Coast who were already living in America," Shackman said. "But then five years later, in 1829, the Germans started coming. Three families came, and one settled right in Ann Arbor. The other two settled in farms west of town. By three years later, there were 30 German families."

She said more and more Germans followed and most of them had trades they learned in their home country. They applied those skills here as Ann Arbor grew bigger and needed carpenters and masons and shoemakers and the like.

During a five-day exchange program this past week, Tübingen delegates went on a walking tour of the University of Michigan campus and football stadium, were welcomed at a Friday night reception at Washtenaw Community College, took a Saturday morning canoe trip down the Huron River from Argo to Gallup just before it rained, had a cookout at County Farm Park where new artwork by a German artist is on display, and went on a bus tour of Detroit with a stop at the Detroit Institute of Art.

They also met with Mayor Christopher Taylor and City Administrator Steve Powers on Monday morning and went on a bus tour to learn about some of Ann Arbor's city initiatives, followed by a reception dinner hosted by Ann Arbor SPARK.

The delegates were then honored Monday night as the City Council unanimously approved a resolution reaffirming the sister city relationship with Tübingen.

Copies of the resolution are being sent to the mayor and council of Tübingen, the U.S. Department of State, and the Embassy of Germany.

Taylor presented Christine Arbogast, one of Tübingen's three mayors, with an official flag of Ann Arbor and a small friendship bell that includes the city seal.

Members of the Tübingen delegation also presented an anniversary gift to the city this week — an artwork by German artist Ursula Buchegger. A cloud made of colored plastic straws, it will stay hanging between trees at County Farm Park.

The Tübingen delegates also serenaded council members with a German song of friendship at Monday night's meeting.

Arbogast gave thanks to everyone who has made them feel welcome and has made their trip interesting. She said they're looking forward to welcoming Ann Arborites in Tübingen next month as the celebration continues.

A delegation from Ann Arbor is scheduled to visit Tübingen in early July for a week of special events to commemorate the 50th anniversary.

This article originally appeared in MLive
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