Over the past 10 years, the Leesburg community has enjoyed an informative and beneficial relationship with a city more than 7,000 miles away and in a different hemisphere.
That partnership with Samcheok City, South Korea, has seen visits to Leesburg from that city's government officials as well as students.
Building on that relationship, Leesburg's Town Council is pursuing another sister city relationship in France.
With the approval of their consent agenda at their regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 13, the Leesburg Town Council authorized Town Manager John Wells to initiate a sister city relationship with Saint Cyr sur Loire, France.
The relationship offer was extended in July by the Foxcroft School's International Program Director Arnaud Boulestreau.
“Leesburg has had a sister-city relationship with Samcheok City in South Korea for a little over a decade. The Korean American community has been tremendously helpful in keeping this relationship going over the years,” Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd said. “Grand Master Eung gil Choi, owner of U.S. Tae Kwon Do Martial Arts has been the driving force behind the sister-city relationship and the student exchanges that have come out of it.”
“The relationship has brought South Korean elected officials, government officials and students to Leesburg several times,” Umstattd said.
Umstattd noted that many families in the community have developed close relationships with other families in South Korea as a result of the partnership and students visiting the town.
“Many of our Leesburg families have developed close ties with their counterparts in South Korea,” Umstattd said. “Although none of us on Council have had the wherewithal to visit our counterparts in Samcheok City, we have developed a true fondness for the Korean people and our growing Korean American community in Leesburg.”
Saint Cyr sur Loire is a French suburb of Tours in the department of Indre et Loire of the French region of Centre.
The community is commonly known for its wealthy population of more than 16,000 people, historic castles and cathedrals and wine country.
Paris is just over 127 miles away from the small town and popular tourist cities Nice and Cannes are 409 and 577 miles away, respectively.
Saint Cyr sur Loire has either had or has sister city relationships with seven different towns or cities across the world. On that list is Meinerzhagen, Germany; Valls, Spain; Ptuj, Slovenia; Katrineholm, Sweden; Morphou, Cyprus; Koussanar, Senegal; and Newark, Great Britain.
Umstattd is hoping the pending partnership will open new doors for the Leesburg community in understanding French culture and vice versa.
“We are hopeful that a similar sister-city relationship with Saint Cyr sur Loire in France will better enable our students and their French counterparts to get to know and appreciate each others culture,” Umstattd said.