Niles Sister Cities Revamps With New Leaders

Five new people will lead the committees for Niles' sister cities in Poland, Ireland, Greece and Italy.


Student exchanges, art exchanges, travel, foreign visitors and Skying overseas may all be on the horizon as Niles' Sister Cities program continues to revamp.

George Alpogianis, who was elected earlier this year to head Sister Cities' board, has announced that five people have agreed to lead the Niles Sister Cities'program committees to Italy, Greece, Ireland and Poland.

Earlier: Niles Sister Cities brims with ideas

They are: 

1. Jolanta Walaszek, heading the committee to Limanowa, Poland.

Limanowa is not far from the town where Walaszek, vice president and branch manager of Niles' PNA Bank, was born. 

Having come here at age 21, she still remembers many traditions in Poland, like the blessing of Easter baskets on the day before Easter.

"Sister Cities will bring the beauty in those traditions so we don't forget our heritage," she said. 

She said she would like to see both Skyping with, and visits to, Limanowa, and hopes businesses will be able to help by sponsoring travel costs. She also hopes to get Polish Saturday schools at St. Isaac Jogues and St. John Brebeuf involved.

2.Tom Kanelos and Rev. Chris Kerkeres, heading the committee to Nafplion, Greece.

Kanelos noted that not much has happened in Niles' Sister Cities exchanges with Greece in recent years, and he would like to possibly develop an art exchange between Niles and Nafplion schools in the fall. 

"I'd like to see a visit from Niles to Nafplion and maybe an exchange visit here," he said. "There hasn't been an exchange in, I can't remember when."

Nafplion is a seaside town on the Pelopponesian peninsula about two hours from Athens, and is near many historic and cultural sites, he said. Those include a castle, a medieval prison and the tomb of King Agamemnon.

3. Vince Genualdi, heading the committee to Pisa, Italy.

Genualdi has been involved with Sister Cities for several years. He and his family hosted several students at their home during a 2010 visit. It was mainly a student exchange, with Pisa students and teachers visiting Niles schools and Maine South High School.

"I still communicate with them on Facebook," said Genualdi, a division commander for the Niles Police Department. 

He would like to continue student exchanges, getting the Maine South and Maine East Italian clubs involved. 

He also once participated in an exchange with the Pisa police department, and said he would like to have Pisa send a police officer here so they could compare notes. 

On the business front, he is also interested in having Niles businesses communicate with Italian businesses, in the hopes of developing some exports and imports.

4. Sue Wilsey, heading the committee to Leixlip, Ireland.

"One of the first things I'd like to do is get in touch with the library (in Leixlip)," said Wilsey, the Niles Library's publicity and marketing supervisor. "The fact I'm of Irish heritage was important too."

Wilsey, whose relatives on both sides of her family came from County Cork, said she's also interested in seeing how the library can provide resources to the Niles Sister Cities program. One of those ideas is to let groups of Niles residents--students, adults, or others--gather at the library to Skype with residents of the various Sister Cities.

"Maybe they could talk about their favorites book and movies," she said.

"I'm just excited to be part of the association and be able to relate to people from my family's homeland and get the library involved."

Next meeting is Monday, April 22

Any Niles resident interested in learning more or participating in Sister Cities is welcome to attend the  



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