The purpose of a twin city delegation is not only to strengthen the links between the twin cities, but also to get to know the culture, history, environment and people of their twin city.
Whereas decades ago financial assistance and the influence of international politics were important in building twin city relations, today these relations are organised around values or characteristics - values rather than interests, we could say. And it is worth getting to know these values in more depth, and the best way to do this is to participate in various programmes.
The difference between programme mnagement and guided tours is that the former does not necessarily include a presentation of the natural or built heritage, but can focus on a kind of "team-building", bringing the twin town delegation closer to the people of the host municipality. Of course, including cultural or built heritage in the programme adds variety to the event, but it is not necessary.
Let us highlight some of the activities that can be organised to entertain a foreign delegation visiting the twin town for a shorter or longer period. These programmes can be organised primarily by guides who are familiar with the local area and by the cultural officers of the municipalities and the heads of the cultural centres, provided that the delegations indicate in advance that they wish to take part in such programmes.
But what kind of programmes?
Cultural programmes include shows that showcase local values - typically the music and dance of a region, which may be complemented by a display of local costumes and customs. A sub-genre of such shows are gigs, which may be linked to national holidays or local festivals.
Examples of the former include the whole range of celebrations on 20 August, and the latter include wine days, harvest days, village fairs, statue unveilings, harvest festivals, exhibition openings, pumpkin festivals - the list is literally endless.
Let us also highlight a relatively neglected area of activity that may at first sight seem shocking, as it is not about fun, but can provide a lifetime of wonderful experiences: volunteering and community service as a sub-genre of volunteering.
Although not many people may think of volunteering when they are organising a programme, in reality, participating in a local initiative is a real immersion in the daily life of the host community.
Whether it's sharing food, distributing clothes, decorating a public building or a church, picking up trash, rescuing frogs or playing music in a nursing home, these events forge a bond between delegations and their twin city community like nothing else. It's not nature, the countryside or even gastronomy that are at the heart of these events, but the best of our people and culture.