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Sunday April 21, 2019
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Ann Arbor's Seven Sisters

 

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The 1983 partnership with Peterborough was inspired by Doug Walker, then head of the Ann Arbor Recreation Department, who suggested the cities set up a Junior Olympics-type exchange. At its height, the Arborough Games brought six or seven busloads of middle school students to Ontario to compete in soccer, baseball, track, volleyball, and basketball, followed by a return delegation from Peterborough the following year. Participants stayed in the homes of the opposing team and enjoyed a big party after the games.

"It was the gem of the recreation department," remembers Larry Dishman. "When it first started, so many kids wanted to participate that we had to have tryouts." But as more opportunities to play sports opened up in Ann Arbor, interest waned. Toward the end "we were so frustrated we would practically hustle kids off the streets of Ann Arbor and tell them they didn't have to pay, just come," Dishman recalls.

The partnership with Dakar, Senegal, was suggested by Richard Ross, who got the idea while visiting a niece who worked for an ambassador in the west African country. City council approved it in 1997.

That October an official delegation visited Ann Arbor including Dakar's mayor, Mamadou Diop. Mary Hall-Thiam, a member of the hospitality committee and the wife of a Senegalese, recalls that the local Senegalese community sponsored a reception in the group's honor. While in Ann Arbor, the delegation observed Ann Arbor's educational systems, economic development, and environmental protection.

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