If you know anything about New Rochelle, New York, you know that it’s named after La Rochelle, France. Like many American towns, New Rochelle got its name from the first settlers who came there. The French Protestant Huguenots who settled in New Rochelle were mostly from La Rochelle. Now, the city tries to maintain this cultural link by having sister city programs with La Rochelle, France.
What do these programs look like? It really depends on the ingenuity of the volunteers who are running the Sister City programs. The programs all strive to connect specific places in La Rochelle with specific places in New Rochelle.
Sometimes the programs take place in the form of exchanges. Often times, New Rochelle and La Rochelle students are exchanged at schools in these respective places. Other times, there are athletic exchange programs.
Often, New Rochelle seeks to honor its Sister City by participating in French events. For example, last year the city hosted Bastille Day celebrations similar to the ones that would have been going on in La Rochelle. There are also events named after La Rochelle, such as the La Rochelle Mayor’s Cup yacht race held in honor of a visit from the La Rochelle Mayor.
The connections between these two cities have faded somewhat over the years, but the culturally diverse New Rochelle doesn’t want to forget its roots. If you’re interested in being a part of the Sister City Initiative, you can actually volunteer to be on the committee or help organize many of the American-French events. There are plenty of events to work on, and the committee is always open to new ways of bringing out the cultural heritage of this interesting and eclectic New York town.