Global Tennessee Podcast – Episode 012 – Nashville Sister Cities & TNWAC Alumnae Spotlight

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Episode 12

Roundtable with TNWAC Alumnae

We kick off this episode of “Global Tennessee” with a conversation with Ali Humbrecht and Colleen Ryan about their World Affairs Council experiences as interns and volunteers and representatives to the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA) National Conferences. We also talked about their extensive international travel as students in study abroad programs.

Ali Humbrecht at the residence of the French Ambassador during her WACA National Conference experience with TNWAC President Patrick Ryan and Board Member Charles Womack.

Ali Humbrecht is a 2018 graduate of Belmont University. She worked as an intern with TNWAC as the liaison between the  Council and Belmont University and coordinated the Council’s social media operations. Ali attended a National Conference of WACA as a scholarship student. Last year she spent a semester at Bard College in Berlin. Ali served as tour guide for Colleen and her family last spring when they visited Berlin.

Colleen Ryan exploring England during study abroad.

Colleen Ryan has been a volunteer with the Tennessee World Affairs Council since its inception in 2007.  She attended the University of Tennessee as a Haslam Scholar and graduated in 2017 with a degree in Global Studies and Sociology. Colleen attended the University of York as a Fulbright Scholar completing her Master of Arts in Post-War Recovery Studies before heading to Beijing, China where she is completing a Masters in Management Studies as a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University.

Interview with Sister Cities of Nashville

In our second segment we talked with Heather Cunningham and Dr. Marieta Velikova of Sister Cities of Nashville. Heather is Executive Director and Marieta serves as Board Chairman. They discussed the origins and mission of this bridge-building organization and its relationship and programs with Nashville’s eight sister cities: Belfast, Northern Ireland; Caen, France; Edmonton, Canada; Kamakura, Japan; Madgeburg, Germany; Mendoza, Argentina; Tiayuan, China; and Tamworth, Australia.

They talked about “citizen diplomacy” programs you can get involved with and encouraged you to learn more about Sister Cities and to become members.

Heather Cunningham and Dr. Marieta Velikova at the Sister Cities of Nashville’s World of Friendship Celebration.

Heather and Marieta explained the mission of Sister Cities: creating relationships based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges, creating lifelong friendships that provide prosperity and peace through person-to-person “citizen diplomacy.”

Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House conference on citizen diplomacy. Eisenhower envisioned an organization that could be the center spoke in the wheel of peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world. By becoming friends, President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could celebrate and appreciate their differences instead of deriding them, fostering suspicion and sowing new seeds for war.

Growing out of the two-day White House Conference, participants formed forty-two “People-to-People” committees. The autonomous nature of the federally backed movement meant that some committees flourished while others never left the ground. By 1960, thirty-three committees continued the original mission. People-to-People International also grew out of this umbrella group of committees.

The sister city idea developed from the Civic Committee. Envisioned by President Eisenhower as the ‘main cog’ for citizen diplomacy, Sister Cities International has played a key role in renewing and strengthening important global relationships since its inception.

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Sister Cities of Nashville Web Site


Global Tennessee is the Podcast of the Tennessee World Affairs Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational association. We rely on support of members and donors to sustain our global affairs awareness efforts. We ask you to become members and make a gift, and for businesses to contact us about sponsoring and participating in Global Tennessee and other community and education outreach programs that bring the world to Tennessee. Contact Patrick Ryan (931-261-2353 / )



  • Executive Producer: Patrick Ryan
  • Senior Producer: Logan Monday
  • Technical Advisor: Bill Ryan
  • Voice of Global Tennessee: Ben Olson



The mission of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tennessee World Affairs Council is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections to enhance the region’s global stature and to prepare Tennesseans to thrive in our increasingly complex and connected world.


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