Sister City Relationship
The City of Albion's Sister City Committee recognized its founder, Sue Marcos. Read more
Albion education students in Noisy-le-Roi gather in front of a sign recognizing the relationship.
The Sister City sign on Eaton Avenue upon entering the City of Albion.
A view from the famous Porte de Gondi in Noisy-le-Roi.
The majesty of Versailles is but a few minutes from Noisy-le-Roi.
Taking in St-Germain-en-Laye in October during a French trip, a short drive from Noisy and Bailly.
Sustainability studies and French major Sara Sample, '15, studied abroad at UVSQ. Read more
Albion and French student teams present business plans at Albion's student research symposium.
French students visited Albion in Fall 2013 for the College's annual Piano Festival.
Visits and exchanges are a key part of the Sister City relationship.
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."
The above quote was how an Albion College faculty member recently described a relationship that received national recognition in 2014 from NAFSA: Association of International Educators in the form of a Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization.
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:
Dianne Guenin-Lelle, professor of French
City of Albion
Sister City Committee web page
Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly
Sister City website
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.
Contact the Office of Campus Programs and Organizations for more information about group membership and activities.
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.
Albion is a city of 9,144 residents (2000 US census) located on the eastern edge of Calhoun County in south central Michigan. A diverse and welcoming community located at the junction of the east and south branches of the Kalamazoo River, the city’s racial-ethnic mix is approximately 61% Caucasian, 33% African American, 4.5% Hispanic or Latino, and 1.5% other groups. The median income for a household in the city is $30,245. Twenty percent of the population and 15% of families live below the poverty level, with children under the age of 18 making up over a quarter of those living in poverty.
For much of its history, Albion’s economy was rooted in agriculture and manufacturing. But with the closing of its last foundry in 2002 due to continuing changes in the automobile industry, Albion has entered a significant economic transition and diversification. Today, Albion College is the community’s largest employer, and economic expansion is occurring at the new Andersons ethanol plant on Albion’s west side, along with significant job growth at Guardian Industries (a producer of fiberglass insulation), Patriot Antenna Systems, and other area firms.
Although some businesses closed their doors in Albion during the last several years, the Albion Downtown Development Authority and the City of Albion have recently completed a marketing study that provides a blueprint for future growth. One of the key recommendations of this study is the redevelopment of the Cass Street corridor connecting the college campus with the downtown center, and the College is partnering with the City of Albion to make this linkage a reality.
Notwithstanding the economic challenges that have confronted many smaller communities in “rustbelt” states in the north central US, what is notable about Albion is the degree to which it lives up to its reputation as “The Friendliest College Town in the Midwest.” There is widespread collaboration among residents and organizations in the community with students and staff from the College on matters related to public education, faith-based organizations, recreation, business development, and the environment. Our students who are involved in the City of Albion consistently report how much their community work and relationships with community members are enriching their education and equipping them to be engaged, contributing citizens in our increasingly diverse and global society.
The future of Albion is promising. With a retooled local economy, a highly regarded and growing college, beautiful parks and countryside, and an impressive level of campus-community collaboration, we believe we are a model small city with much to offer to students, families, employers, and visitors.