The summit started six years ago in Japan.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The words world summit often conjure up thoughts of big cities and worldly travelers.
But New Castle, Pa., a city of about 25,000 people, is putting a new spin on the term when it hosts the third International New Castle Summit of the World later this month.
From six countries, about 75 delegates, all hailing from cities whose names derive from New Castle, are expected to talk about the environment, learn about American culture and just enjoy the area.
"When you look at cities and events that cities bring in, you always hear Pittsburgh, New York or Chicago hosting events like this. You never hear the little city hosting international events, and I think this goes to show we can do it," said New Castle Mayor Timothy Fulkerson.
The visiting delegates representing cities not much larger than New Castle, Pa., will be treated to American life during their stay that includes dinners, a '50s-style car cruise and visits to two college campuses.
The event kicks off Sept. 29 with two luncheons and the opening ceremonies, which will be part of a large pep rally open to the public.
How it began
The contingent of New Castles came together in the mid-1990s when the mayor of Shinshiro, Japan, which translates into New Castle, started looking for a sister city. He eventually chose New Castle, Pa., but in his travels came across numerous other New Castles in the world and discovered their daily problems were not much different from his own.
The summit of New Castles was born in 1998 in Shinshiro and is held every two years in another New Castle. This year it is being co-hosted by New Castle, Ind., where delegates will travel Oct. 2 for more talk of the environment and industry, Fulkerson said.
Organizers wanted to allow their international visitors to see as much of the United States as possible, he said.
Planning and organization for the event has been two years in the making.
Delegates from Switzerland, England, Germany, Japan, South Africa and the United States are expected. They will spend a day at Slippery Rock University in Butler County to talk about environmental ethics and Pennsylvania's environmental initiatives before breaking off into smaller groups.
"It's a good example of how environmental issues are global issues," said Dr. William McKinney, SRU's dean of the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts.
They will also spend time at Westminster College in New Wilmington, where author John Nicolaou, author of "Newcastles of the World," will make his case for admitting his hometown, New-Castle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom, to the international group.
Kelly Adamczyk, New Castle's coordinator for the event, said the request for admission is a formality to show respect for Shinshiro's mayor, who started the organization. Members will have a ceremonial vote to approve admission, she said.
They also don't want the organization to become too unwieldy, she added. Most of the cities are small and can't accommodate large numbers of people. The 2000 summit in Neuchatal, Switzerland, had delegates staying in two different areas of the city because there were no hotels large enough, Adamczyk said.
But she believes the size of the cities isn't a hindrance when they want to work internationally, and the summit proves it.
"It's another way to show a small community does and is doing international business or events," Adamczyk said.
Fulkerson said he hopes area residents come out and meet the delegates, who are looking for a taste of American life.
"I think a lot of people here have roots in the countries these people are coming from. These [delegates] want to talk to everybody. They want to know what makes us tick," Fulkerson said.