City of Lynnwood has new Friendship City — in Ethiopia

Friendship City Ceremony: Top row, left to right: Lynnwood Communications & Public Affairs Officer Julie Moore, Executive Assistant and Sister City Liaison Leah Jensen, Sister City Committee Member Wally Webster. Middle row, left to right: Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith, Habesha Community Center Vice Chair Rahel Schwartz, and Lynnwood City Council Member Julieta Altamirano-Crosby. Bottom row, left to right: Habesha Community Center Chair Selam Habte, and streaming from Ethiopia, Habesha Community Member Ermias Merid (off screen) and the Honorable Emeru Fenta Kelbeessa.

The City of Lynnwood has a new Friendship City Relationship with a borough of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mayor Nicola Smith and Council Member Julieta Altamirano-Crosby participated in a virtual Friendship City Ceremony Jan. 7 with officials from Bole Kefle Ketema Wereda 10, a borough or sub-city of Addis Ababa.

“Lynnwood is one of the most diverse communities in Washington state,” said Wally Webster, board member of the Lynnwood Sister City Association. “The Lynnwood Sister and Friendship Cities relationships are one of the best ways to appreciate, value and celebrate the various cultures in our community. The better we understand and accept our cultural differences, the better we can live together in this Welcoming City.”

Smith and Altamirano-Crosby were joined by the Honorable Emeru Fenta Kelbeessa, leader of Kefle Ketema, Wereda 10. Other participants included three Lynnwood residents and members of the Habesha Community Center: Selam Habte, Rahel Schwartz and Ermias Merid.

“My staff and I are committed to promoting diversity in our community,” Mayor Smith said. “Three years ago, we identified safe, welcoming and livable city as one of our top five priorities. I am honored to join in a friendship relationship with Kefle Ketema, Wereda 10. I’m looking forward to working with the Honorable Emeru Fenta Kelbeessa, and members of the Habesha Community Center to learn how we can help support our Ethiopian neighbors in Lynnwood.”

Friendship City relationships are similar to the Sister City program, but have a more limited scope. Additionally, friendship cities relationships are a mayor-to-mayor agreements whereas Sister City relationships require the city council’s approval. Like the Sister City program, Friendship City relationships typically involve participating in annual exchanges.

In September 2020, Smith and Altamirano-Crosby participated in a virtual Friendship City Ceremony with elected officials from the the state of Guerrero, Mexico including Gov. Hector Astudillo Flores and Chilpancingo Council Member Ana Lilia Leyva Sotelo. A proclamation was also issued to formalize the relationship.

In 2016, Lynnwood entered into a Sister City agreement with Damyang, South Korea. Since, the program has sponsored student exchanges involving high school students from Damyang visiting Lynnwood. In 2019, Lynnwood High School students traveled to South Korea.

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