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Education & Exchanges >> Sister cities
History of the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities’ Linkage
Founded in the wake of postwar construction in Europe and the Marshall plan, our historic sister city relationship is still vibrant and developing. In November 1956, a delegation led by Mayor Henri Freville of Rennes visited Rochester to initiate a twinning between Rennes, France and Rochester, New York and in October 1958, a delegation led by Mayor Peter Barry of Rochester visited Rennes and affirmed the twinning by signing the Golden Book of Rennes.

Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee |

Terry Mathews-DeSant, President

In September, 1957, Alain Blanchet, from the University of Rennes II in France came to Rochester and was the first University exchange student hosted for the academic year 1957-1958 at the University of Rochester. That is an ongoing exchange that continues today.

Since the twinning was officially established, the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee has carried out many diverse and very successful exchanges in the areas of education, sports, medicine, dentistry, music, art, government, and most recently, business. We have also facilitated exchanges with athletes who have physical limitations and children who are deaf or hearing impaired. The two committees, one in Rennes and one in Rochester, initiate all twinning plans and execute all of its own exchanges, activities, and programs. This committee is dedicated to bringing peace to the globe through hundreds of annual people-to-people exchanges.

A description of past and current exchanges:
Over the past 51 years plus, the linkage between Rennes and Rochester has been an exemplary example of President Eisenhower’s dream, bringing together people from all walks of life in Rennes and Rochester. Our exchanges throughout the years have been as diverse as life itself. We have approximately 400 Rochesterians and Rennais traveling between out two countries each year.

Some special exchanges that our committee has supported and participated in over the years which have offered unique opportunities to citizens with certain personal limitations are the following:

• classroom exchanges between the Rochester School for the Deaf and Kerveiza, a school in Rennes for the non-hearing children, and
•  our participation in an international wheelchair basketball tournament held in Rennes for athletes who are paraplegics.
There have been many other kinds of exchanges, other than academic ones, that have brought together citizens from Rennes and Rochester who are involved in sports, music, government, and cultural programs.

Delegations from both Rennes and Rochester have participated in the following exchanges: 
• an International Youth Jamboree for children 8-12, held in Rennes,
• D-day celebrations held in Rennes, where we escorted Rochester WWII Vets to participate,
• a home-stay experience, where Rochester families hosted the “Stade Rennais”,  Rennes’ professional soccer team, when they accepted our invitation to play against Rochester’s professional soccer team, the “Raging Rhinos”  in an International,  “friendly” soccer game,
• hosting in Rochester eighty young French singers, ages 8- 28 from the historical choir, “Children of the Wooden Cross” of Rennes who performed to Rochester citizens in a city-wide concert,
• sponsoring Philharmonic Orchestra exchanges, both the Rochester Philharmonic
• Youth Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestras have performed in Rennes and Rennes’ Orchestre de Bretagne has performed in Rochester,
• Sponsoring journalist’s exchanges between the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper of Rochester and L’Ouest France of Rennes,
• a native traditional music and dance exchange, begun nine years ago, with the Cercle Celtique, a group of young professionals from Rennes who keep alive the traditional Celtic dance, language and music of their province, Brittany and the local Seneca Indians of Ganondagan in the Rochester area, who do likewise with their traditional dance and music.
(In July, 2009, the committee entertained, hosted and guided the Celtic performers throughout our city, giving them many opportunities to perform, not only at our annual Indian Festival at Ganondagan, but at several other public venues in and around Rochester. Local Rochester musicians joined in several times during their stay as did local dancers.
• ASPTT’s annual International Basketball tournaments held in Rennes, France each spring. Participating Rochester area schools are: Mercy High, the AUU, Franchise Ballers, Madison Middle School, Rochester’s School Without Walls, Brighton High, Mc Quaid and Wilson Magnet.

Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities committee also sponsors many ongoing academic exchanges as well as several in local government areas:
• seven ongoing, local high schools exchanges with Counterparts in Rennes, (1) lycee Chateaubriand with Brighton High School, (2) Lycee Brequigny with Livonia High and Honeoye, (3) Lycee St. Vincent with Aquinas Institute, (4)Lycee Rene Descartes, with Bishop Kearney High School, (5) Lycee Victor et Helene Basch with Pittsford Mendon and Sutherland High Schools, (6)Marcus Whitman with Lycee Jean Paul, and (7) St. Martin with Eastridge High,
• several “key-pal” classroom exchanges between several of our Rochester and Rennes Elementary schools,
• the ongoing, annual exchanges carried out in four Rochester Universities:(1) the University of Rochester with the Universite de Rennes II, (2)Rochester Institute of Technology with Institut National des Sciences Appliquees, (3) Nazareth college with L’Universite de Rennes II, (4) and the University of Rochester with the Franco-American Institute in Rennes,
•  the annual exchange between the Institut Catholique with Finger Lakes Community College,
•  the Rochester and Rennes Chamber of Commerce exchanges,
•  Kodak and Legris, (in the past)
•  Rochester and Rennes City Hall,
• the International Business Councils in both Cities,
• as well as, individual teachers, doctors, engineers, artists, library and museum personnel, architects, vocal and instrumental artists, and local photographers from both cities.
Presently, we are focusing on economic development and working with several local businesses organizations. We also send, annually, representatives from Rochester to the International Trade show in Rennes.

Last year, we have made a video of the 50 year history of the Rennes-Rochester twinning, including photos from 1956-2008 for our 50th anniversary gift to our sister city.  Also a video, The War that had to be Fought.. Rochester WWII Vets Remember, was made and presented as a gift to our friends in Rennes during the 60th anniversary of their Liberation in 2004. 


Our committee’s focus will continue to bring people together from all around the world to learn more about each other, to promote mutual understanding to help dispel ignorance and ultimately to strengthen international friendships that will, hopefully, one day lead to global peace. The more young people we can send abroad to experience a different culture and way of life, the greater our chances will be to have future international leaders who will handle differences with understanding, compassion, and definitely not with ammunition and guns.
The relationship between Rennes and Rochester has no expiration date and the benefits of friendship, understanding and good will that results from our twinning will have no end.


© Comité de Jumelage Rennes-Rochester  St Vincent students visit Aquina's Institute in Rochester

© Comité de Jumelage Rennes-Rochester

© Comité de Jumelage Rennes-Rochester
Rochester welcomes an official delegation from Rennes, led by Mayor Delaveau in May 2008, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their twinning

© Comité de Jumelage Rennes-Rochester

© Comité de Jumelage Rennes-Rochester
Rochester Mayor Peter Barry and Mayor Henri Freville from Rennes, meet for the first time in nov 1956  

© Comité de Jumelage Rennes-Rochester

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