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CULTURAL EXCHANGE: Carnegie pairs with 'Sister City' Kelty, Scotland

By Bob Podurgiel

Carnegie council members accepted a memorandum of understanding between the borough and the Kelty Community Council in Scotland as part of the Partner (Sister) City Program.

The borough has been working for about a year to establish cross-cultural ties with the Scottish village. Small towns in Scotland are often referred to as villages.

Carnegie Councilperson Tom DiPietro has led council’s effort to create the cross-cultural exchange program that will not only include the local governments in the respective communities, but the school districts in both countries as well.

“I am glad to see the youngsters at Carnegie Elementary getting involved,” DiPietro said at the March 13 meeting where the MOU was approved.

Students in the Carlynton School District will connect with Kelty students attending St. Joseph’s Elementary and Kelty Primary School via Zoom.

Although Carnegie and Kelty are separated by the Atlantic Ocean, the two communities have a lot in common.

Like Carnegie, Kelty boomed as the coal industry employed thousands of workers after a new rail line made the mining and transportation of locally mined coal profitable in the 19th century.

During the coal boom, Kelty’s population peaked at 9,000 residents, falling to an estimated 6,740 residents in 2021, according to the United Kingdom Census figures for council areas in Scotland. The U.S. Census showed Carnegie’s population peaking in 1990 at 9,201, with the population shrinking to 8,134 in the 2021 census estimate.

Like in Kelty, where many of the residents commute to jobs in Edinburgh, a major city in Scotland, a good number of Carnegie residents commute to jobs in Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland.

Kelty is only 14.5 miles from Dunfermline, the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie. In 1894, the town of Carnegie was named after the Scottish-born steel magnate with the merger of two adjacent communities along Chartiers Creek, Mansfield and Chartiers.

Dunfermline proved too large a city with a population of 58,000 to make a good match with Carnegie.

The sister city program pairs comparably sized cities and towns across the world in a cultural exchange program that began in the 1950s at the behest of the Eisenhower Administration to foster international communication and understanding.

The sister city of Chicago is Warsaw, Poland, owning to the Chicago metro area’s large Polish heritage and a population of 900,000, compared with 1.86 million people currently living in the Polish capital.

A town can also have more than one sister city. The City of Pittsburgh touts a number of sister cities, ranging from Saarbrucken, Germany, a city known for its many bridges, and ties to the coal, iron and steel industry, and Glasgow, Scotland, the most recent sister city of Pittsburgh, added to the list in 2020.


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