Kortrijk visits sister city in South Carolina


A delegation of academics, politicians and business leaders are in South Carolina this week to meet with their counterparts there about co-operation opportunities

‘Broader and bigger’

A group of representatives from the city of Kortrijk, led by mayor Vincent Van Quickenborne, are leaving today for a week-long visit to Greenville, South Carolina, in the US. The trip is the return leg of a visit by Greenville representatives that took place last year.

The exchange is part of the Sister Cities campaign, which first brought Greenville (pictured) together with the West Flanders city through links based in the textile industry. In addition, there was a relationship created by the service of the US Army’s 30th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.

Greenville representatives led by acting mayor Jil Littlejohn visited Kortrijk in June last year. “It was a pleasure, after years of silence between our cities, to meet our colleagues from Greenville again,” Van Quickenborne told Flanders Today. “A lot has changed in the meantime, but you also see the similarities.”

Isabelle Pertry, director of the international affairs department of HoWest University College in Kortrijk, is one of the representatives taking part in the exchange. Last year, she says, “was a first introduction to each other’s institutions and exploration of possible common areas of interest and options to co-operate. HoWest hopes to develop opportunities for academic co-operation, including long- and short-term student exchanges. We’re also looking into training opportunities for our senior students within the higher education institutions, companies and organisations in Greenville.”

“I’m a fan of any exchange,” said Roel Vandommele, dean of HoWest. “They are a breath of fresh air and help me think broader and bigger. More specifically, I hope that the visit to Greenville will inspire collaborations between education and local communities and organisations.”

Others travelling to Greenville include finance and education city councillor Kelly Detavernier, Wim Van Cauteren of Flanders Investment & Trade and Stijn Debaillie of Designregio Kortrijk

The visit, said Van Quickenborne, gives the representatives the opportunity “to discover up close all the things we have heard about Greenville. Kortrijk’s higher education institutions will be with us, and that should lead to closer ties and hopefully more sustainable co-operation. And we’re also looking forward to possible co-operation with Greenville businesses.”

Photo: Tim/Wikimedia