The Center for African Studies, in collaboration with the Urbana Free Library, local public schools, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the Urbana Sister Cities Committee, received a 2010-2011 public engagement grant entitled, “Extending The Sister Cities Initiative: Understanding Malawi in Urbana.” During this resoundingly successful partnership, led by our grad assistant Tholani Hlongwa, we planned and delivered workshops for K-12 teachers, developed curriculum and materials for lessons on the galimoto (wire car), and promoted reading activities. We also organized music, cultural, and youth and family programs. Our work complemented the efforts by Sister Cities in Zomba, which involved adding major infrastructural improvements to communities in Malawi. For all of this work, the Illinois State Sister Cities Committee selected the Urbana Sister Cities Committee as the 2012 Illinois Sister Cities of the Year.
Thankfully, there is more to come. Urbana has been chosen as one of only three cities nationally to participate in the new SINO-AFRICAN INITIATIVE grant program sponsored by the Gates Foundation. This will be a collaborative effort to improve municipal waste disposal in Zomba. “The goal of the grant is to determine if trilateral partnerships are feasible,” said Lula Chen, program manager for Sister Cities International. “These first grants will be feasibility tests.” We look forward to further participation in this project as CAS.
Pictured above is part of the Sister Cities’ construction work in Zomba. For more information on the Sino-African Initiative visit: