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Saluda Wins 'Innovation in Youth and Education' Award from Sister Cities International - The Tryon Daily Bulletin

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Saluda, with a population of approximately 750, was awarded by Sister Cities International the highest honor for a city with less than 25,000 people in the Youth and Education Innovation category.

Saluda entered into a sister city relationship with the village of Carunchio in Abruzzo, Italy in 2014. And Italian Carncho to each other and to the wider world.

This award builds on the efforts of the Saluda organization over the past year. Meanwhile, the Saluda sister city established and expanded an English reading library in Caluncho Village. Children there learn English and become fluent by the end of the fifth grade. But they only had English textbooks to read. The creation of the Children’s English Lending Library has provided a wide range of opportunities to read stories in English and expand vocabulary and comprehension. Each year, Saluda sends additional books to the library held by sister city visitors to Caluncio.

In the fall of 2021, Saluda sent a “cultural suitcase” to Karuncho Elementary School. In my suitcase are maps, educational DVDs about America, American games such as BananaGram and Monopoly, children’s books about North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains, stuffed animals, a small Statue of Liberty and a book about it, a giant The floor was packed. US size puzzles and more. Indian arrowheads too! The suitcases were presented to teachers and students during a ceremony in Caluncio Park, presided over by Caluncio Mayor Gianfranco Dizabella.

Both elementary schools have a kindergarten through fifth grade. Both are in small towns, so they have a lot in common. The two towns have roughly the same population, are located at the same latitude and altitude, and share a similar climate.

Karanchio sits on the edge of the Apennine Mountains, perched on top of a ‘Hershey’s Kiss’ shaped mountain with a village running down its side. Much more vertical than Saluda. The Saluda school has about 160 students, while the Calunkio school has about 32 students. Obviously Calunkio School doesn’t have as many resources as Saluda, but the teachers are dedicated and the students are eager to learn. Like Saluda Elementary, Carunchio emphasizes art in its curriculum, and art is regularly exchanged between schools in the form of drawings and illustrated letters from students.

The two cities were linked in 2014 when the first group of 16 Sarudians visited the 1700s Palazzo Tour d’Eau for a week of culinary and travel trips. The adventure of the tour, the great food and wine, the beautiful countryside and the enthusiasm of the enthusiastic Palazzo owner/host Massimo Crisio captivated everyone.

Upon returning to Saluda, the traveler approached the Saluda City Council and arranged for official documents to be prepared. Mr. Criscio and Mayor Caluncho also took similar measures, and the sister city relationship was officially established. The Saluda Downtown Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, is the headquarters of the Saluda Sister Cities.

Over the past eight years, there have been many projects that have benefited students from the two schools. Annual trip to the Palazzo Tour D’Eau, School of Cooking and Touring. Visit to Saluda by Mayor Caluncho. and study abroad in the summer.

The Saluda Sister City Program is a member of Sister Cities International (SCI), a non-profit organization founded at President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1956 Conference on Citizen Diplomacy. Today, it has 500 members in 140 countries and is affiliated with 1,800 cities. SCI’s mission is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.

For more information about Saluda Sister City or its programs, please contact Judy Thompson at

Submitted by Judy Thompson