Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly, France – City of Albion – Albion College
"The Sister City relationship informs our teaching, course design, faculty development, research and service. Sometimes we struggle to articulate the importance of the Sister City relationship to Albion College because it infuses virtually everything we do."
What began as a bilateral exercise between the City of Albion and the village of Noisy-le-Roi more than 15 years ago is now a true triangular relationship.
Albion and Noisy-le-Roi, located 15 miles west of Paris and a few minutes' drive from Versailles, formally became Sister Cities in 1997. (Bailly, an adjacent village, joined the partnership in 2010.) Over the first 10 years, in what was then a town-to-town collaboration, more than 500 Albion residents and students participated in youth and adult exchanges and internships in Noisy. Then in 2007, Albion College's new president, Donna Randall, and provost, Susan Conner, hosted "An Evening of French Food and Jazz" for the French delegation and members of the campus and Albion community. The seemingly small event proved to be a spark: It validated, coalesced and reinforced the often individual involvement of College faculty, staff and students. A year later, the College began its real journey as a partner in the Sister City relationship toward intentional internationalization and building friendships that underscore the collaboration.
The Sister City relationship has led to a number of collaborations. A few are highlighted below (click for more information):
A program in Sustainability Studies between Albion College and the University of Versailles at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ) that includes a semester of study in France.
An international business plan development program between the College's Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management and the Ecole Superieure de Vente (SdV) in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
An international practicum developed by Albion College's Education Department and the middle school in Noisy-le-Roi, in which Albion students go abroad for a week during winter break to observe students and teachers and make formal comparisons between the French and American systems of education.
Albion College's annual Piano Festival brings in the most talented young people from the environs of Paris to participate with students in south-central Michigan. And Albion fine and performing arts faculty have opportunities to exhibit and teach master classes in France.
Other opportunities have included faculty research for non-French specialists at the Bibliothèque nationale as well as student internships involving the restaurant business, organic farming, translating admissions materials, community service, and shadowing medical professionals.
Lessons Learned, and Looking Ahead
Small institutions have incredible opportunities to harness energies, enthusiasm, and bold ideas and dreams, and pair them with the "person power" that comes from relationships. Here, the City of Albion, the Sister Cities of Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly, and Albion College happen to share and treasure joint values, namely "the ability to function as well-informed citizens both locally and globally" and often "to go beyond our comfort zones."
At the core of it, relationships matter. Indeed, they are essential. They grow, and they enable growth. They sustain, they are substantive, and they are substantial. And, in the case of this enduring relationship, they cement bonds that are an ocean or a sea apart.
The following representatives would be happy to share more information on the Sister City relationship and upcoming collaborations between Albion, Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly, and Albion College:
Albion College Dianne Guenin-Lelle, professor of French 517/629-0335,
City of Albion Mary Slater 517/629-3550,
Sister City Committee web page
Construction is set to begin in October for the new 72-room Courtyard Marriott hotel that will sit between, S. Superior, S. Clinton, W. Porter and W. Center streets.
The hotel will serve as the centerpiece for a downtown renaissance that the college is proud to share in.
Financed by Saginaw doctor Sam Shaheen, '88, it's believed the new hotel will help revitalize the downtown and provide a place for College parents, guests and visitors to stay during school events.
Shaheen said talks about a downtown hotel have been ongoing since 2010, but it was the impetus of College President Mauri Ditzler that finally moved the project off the drawing board.
"This is about family," Shaheen said at the May groundbreaking. "We believe in what this means to the City, the College and the citizens of Albion."
Jerry White, Albion's vice president of finance and administration, said the College has made a $4 million investment from the school's endowment. In addition, a $1 million Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant will be used to help fund the project. All told, the hotel will cost between $7-9 million and is slated for completion by fall/winter 2017.
Community Outreach and Services
Several campus departments and organizations provide services to the greater community. Interested individuals should contact each office directly for details about service availability and applicable fees.
Library access and borrowers' cards
The Stockwell-Mudd Libraries allow area residents to use the library collections and to check out materials with a community borrower's card.
Lodging, catering, and conferences
Dining and Hospitality Services offers overnight accommodations at College-owned properties. This office also coordinates summer conferences and caters events hosted on campus.
Nature center and trails
The Whitehouse Nature Center (right) features scenic nature trails in a 144-acre preserve. Trails are open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Nature Center staff provide programming for school-age children as well as enrichment classes for adults.
Public computing lab
Information Technology welcomes members of the community to use its Mudd Library computer lab on a space available basis when the lab is staffed.
Student service organizations
Alpha Phi Omega is a national co-educational service fraternity that brings together college students with a common interest in service. At Albion, the Alpha Gamma Lambda chapter has brought together students from a variety of student groups and backgrounds, from social Greek fraternities and sororities, members of Albion’s student government, music students, and more.
Best Buddies matches college students with mildly mentally impaired community members as friends. Members make a commitment to spend time with their buddies on a weekly basis in addition to attending monthly group outings.
Habitat For Humanity works in conjunction with the Greater Albion Habitat for Humanity to provide low-cost housing to families who display a need. This is done through the building and renovation of homes in Albion and the surrounding area.
Students Together Raising Integrity, Values, and Excellence (STRIVE) consists of Albion College students and professors who work together throughout the year to facilitate and mentor small groups of Albion Middle School students.
Student Volunteer Bureau (SVB) is composed of a student director and nine coordinators who are responsible for supporting and supplying services to existing volunteer programs and assisting in developing new ones. These programs extend into the community of Albion, as well as at the college itself.
Albion has a tradition of providing service to others through groups such as Kiwanis, the Sister City program, Albion Volunteer Service Organization, the Albion Community Foundation, the CHECK Greater Albion Alliance, the Greater Albion Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis, Rotary, and many others.
The Community Outreach and Services page has more details on Albion College’s great working relationship with the local community, and the dozens of programs and events in which College community members are involved locally.
Albion College believes that civic engagement is an important component in its educational mission.
An Albion College education. It's hands-on. It's the liberal arts. It's career readiness. It's providing you the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need to succeed in college, in your career, and in your life.