Andrew Sherr, Consul General of United States in Guayaquil, Ruth Duenas, Consul General of Ecuador, Cecilia Paredes, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (or ESPOL), Rober Gallegos, Houston Council Member District I, and Sunnil Sharma, Board Member of Sister Cities of Houston were invited by Luis W. Moyano, President of Houston Guayaquil Sister Cities (or HGSCA) to be part of a panel that presented at the Sister Cities International Conference Houston 2019. The panel discussed the importance of collaboration of Sister Cities Associations, Local Governments, and Diplomats to generate progress and promote peace between nations. The discussion panel was moderated by Jennifer Priest of Norfolk Sister Cities who was appointed by Sister Cities International.
From Left to Right: Sunnil Sharma, Sister Cities of Houston, Robert Gallegos, Houston Council Member District I, Ruth Duenas, Consul General of Ecuador in Houston, Cecilia Paredes, Rector of ESPOL, Luis W. Moyano, President of HGSCA, Andrew Sherr, Consul General of United States in Guayaquil.
Andrew Sherr, Consul General of United States in Guayaquil participated as a virtual panelist and expressed "Sister city relationships promote people to people ties between the two countries that complement what we’re doing at our overseas missions. It’s part of our soft power and the work done through sister city programs can contribute to an overall positive impression of the U.S. in that city. Successful sister city relationships are driven by very active private citizens and organizations that may or may not include strong input from the municipalities."
Ruth Duenas, Consul General of Ecuador in Houston, focused her statement on how a sister cities relationship with one city could lead to create collateral opportunities to other cities as well.
Cecilia Paredes, Rector of ESPOL, also emphasized the importance of Superior Educational Institutions participating and/or partnering with Sister Cities Programs to enhance their community outreach programs and global expansion strategic plan through bilateral exchange opportunities between institutions at each city. ESPOL and ESPAE School of Business and Rice University and the Jones School of Business are collaborating and working on creating educational exchange programs thanks to the diligence of HGSCA.
Robert Gallegos, Houston Council Member District I, explained how the City of Houston supports Sister Cities relationships as well as how to create goodwill opportunities. Robert Gallegos used an important donation of equipment and supplies to the Guayaquil Fire Department that was recently approved by the City of Houston as an example
Sunil Sharma and Luis W. Moyano encouraged the audience to become members and learn more about sister cities relationships as a way to promote cultural understanding, generate progress, and set the grounds to transform the world into a more tolerant one.
"We are citizens of the same planet, and we like it or not, we must work together to maintain it. That would only be possible, if we are willing to see beyond our perspectives and accept different ways of thinking." km