The City of Wilmington in North Carolina in the United States of America is probably a city that very few know of; but now San Pedro residents will be more aware of this particular city. From June 1st to the 6th, Mayor Elsa Paz, Deputy Mayor Joseph Elijio and Mayor’s Assistant Felix Ayuso traveled to the City of Wilmington to establish a sister city relationship with one of the most historically interesting, culturally diverse and fun places, not only in the state of North Carolina but in the entire eastern seaboard. Initial contact was made approximately six months ago by frequent San Pedro visitor Honorary Consul of Belize, Dr. Edward Lee Paul Jr. who is from the City of Wilmington.
After months of communication and getting all the particular details set up, the San Pedro delegation traveled to Wilmington where they met with Mayor of the City Bill Saffo, who had a full itinerary prepared for the San Pedranos. The tour of the City of Wilmington included visits to many areas of interest found within the city including the University of North Carolina. The University of North Carolina has a Marine Biology Research Center and initial conversation indicate that San Pedro could benefit from this Center. A student exchange program will more than likely be set up between the University and San Pedro.
The Cape Fear Community College was also of great interest to Mayor Paz and her companions as it also presented the opportunity of a student exchange program to be developed. Cape Fear Community College is North Carolina’s leader in world class workforce development providing programs such as boat building, culinary, cosmetology, dentistry and the arts to name a few.
Another stop in the Wilmington tour included a visit to the Port Authority as well as a visit to the chamber of commerce and with the Wilmington Tourism Bureau, where marketing ideas where shared.
Culminating the visit was a grand ceremony where the sister city agreement was signed by Mayor Elsa Paz and Mayor Bill Saffo. Mayor Paz commented, “Today marks the official visit of one municipality to another and it is my most sincere hope as Mayor of Ambergris Caye that this visit also symbolizes the commencement of a wonderful relationship between people with different borders, but with similar goals and aspirations.” During the ceremony, Mayor Paz presented Mayor Saffo with a wood carving of a sailfish, “This fish made by Belizean artisans is made out of wood. In Belize, wood is synonymous to hard work. Wood, in particular Mahogany was the first exportation of Belize. In the 18th Century indentured slaves and their owners worked the land and forests to produce this product which was in high demand. My ancestors worked hard to get this wood and it is with that same strength that we will work to nurture this sisterhood that today we are officially sealing.” Tokens of appreciation were also presented to Honorary Consul of Belize, Dr. Edward Lee Paul Jr., special assistant to Dr. Paul Elizabeth Cramond, and to the Director of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Scott Czechlewski.
Mayor Saffo presented to Mayor Paz an engraved plate stating Presented to San Pedro, Belize on the occasion of establishing Wilmington and San Pedro as sister cities to create greater mutual understanding, exchange and cooperation between the peoples of Wilmington and San Pedro.
In her speech Mayor Paz stated, “On behalf of the San Pedro Town Council I invite you, Mayor Saffo and a delegation from Wilmington to visit San Pedro Town. Be assured that we will be awaiting you with open hearts and open arms.” Planning the upcoming Wilmington delegation visit to La Isla Bonita will be just what Honorary Consul of Belize, Dr. Edward Lee Paul Jr. will do when he arrives in San Pedro next week.