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Winter 2007 • Volume 13, Issue 1

Sister cities commemorate 30-year collaboration

by Aimée Roy


Five Bradley mechanical engineering students studied in Peoria’s sister city in Germany last May. From left: Joseph Herther ‘08, William Gebhardt ‘08, Marion Teslik ‘08, Nathan Adams ‘08, and Adam Dovalina’07 visited the Green Tower in Ravensberg,

For 30 years, a special friendship has existed between Peoria and Friedrichshafen, Germany. Residents of the two “sister cities” have been exchanging high school and college students, hosting cultural events, creating business partnerships, and building friendships.

Dr. Martin Morris ’77 MSME ’79, professor of mechanical engineering, became involved with the group as a way to get his family involved in the community after moving to Peoria. “My son stayed with a family in Friedrichshafen, then a student from Friedrichshafen came to Peoria and stayed with us.” The first youth exchange between Peoria and Friedrichshafen took place in 1978. The cities boast the longest continuous youth exchange between sister cities anywhere in the United States. Each year, approximately 20 teens ages 14 to 19 visit their sister city for three weeks in the summer. The following year, the roles are reversed. The guests participate in the daily life of their host families and join in community events. The program allows young people to visit a foreign country, not as a tourist, but as a member of a family and community.

From BU to BA

The friendships Morris built in Germany have also become part of his work. Three years ago, Morris began taking Bradley mechanical engineering students to Friedrichshafen for a study abroad experience. “They take Thermodynamics II, which is a required class. I think sometimes people may get the impression that the study abroad classes are not challenging, but that’s not true. Thermo II is rigorous, and the students really learn the material,” he said.

Last May, Morris traveled to Germany with five Bradley students (shown at left) where they studied at Berufsakademie (the “BA”) on the Friedrichshafen campus. Each student stayed with a host family and toured the Zeppelin Company, the Austrian Alps, and other locations of interest in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. “It is a tremendous opportunity for the students, and we couldn’t do it without the help of the folks over there,” added Morris.

“German companies will pay students to come to the United States to study and work,” said Morris. “The biggest hindrance to Bradley students studying abroad is the cost. It is $2,100 for three weeks in Germany including airfare, housing, and tuition. It would be great if we could find folks to contribute to a scholarship fund to send students to Germany,” he said. “I want the students to get to know people from different cultures and see that there is a world outside of our borders.”

Car image

A group from Friedrichshafen, Germany, visited Peoria in September. The sister city’s mayor, Margarita Kaufmann, sits behind the wheel of Bradley’s Baja car. Looking on from left are Heinz Edwald, Dr. Martin Morris ’77 MSME ’79, and Gerhard Leiprecht.

Morris says he would like to see greater collaboration between the Bradley and BA students. “I would like to see them team up to design and build something. I think it would be an interesting collaboration everyone would learn from,” Morris said. “Engineering is becoming more and more of a global enterprise. It would be great to have the experience of working on a team that’s geographically distributed.”

Also last May, to mark the 30th anniversary of the relationship between Peoria and Friedrichshafen, the schools entered into a formal agreement expressing their intention to encourage the development of new and collaborative undertakings in the years to come.

Dr. Richard Johnson, dean of the college of engineering and technology, added, “This Memorandum of Understanding is a formal recognition of the ongoing collaboration between Bradley University and Berufsacademie Ravensberg. It is an important marker of the interest and will of both institutions to further the collaborative relationship that has developed. Our goal is to grow this collaboration into a powerful relationship benefitting both institutions, their faculty, their students, and the communities they serve.”

Visit Peoria sister city for more information and photos. Go>