Maryland Sister States Program

Maryland Sister States Program 

    Chinese New Year PosterWorld Artists Experiences Presents: CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION

  • in partnership with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, the Department of Culture and Tourism of Guangdong Province, and the Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, Television, Press and Publication of Guangzhou Municipality.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2019
    Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, Maryland
    Learn more​

    Photos of the Maryland Team at the Huangshan International Travel Agencies’ Conference

  • (Top photo) In November 2018, Steven Drake and Mark Xu, Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the Maryland-Anhui Sister State Committee; Marylanders Vanessa Marcel, Heather Dellinger, and Jingwen Xu; and Felicia Pullam, Regional Manager, East Asia and Investment Lead, with the Maryland Department of Commerce participated in the opening ceremony of the Huangshan International Travel Agencies’ Conference.

    (Bottom left photo) The Maryland team, including Mark Xu and Steven Drake, with Director Li at the top of Huangshan Mountain.

    (Bottom right photo) On November 13, 2018, Steven Drake, Mark Xu, and Felicia Pullam toured Precedo.


  • Through the Maryland-Kanagawa Sister State Program, five college students from University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore County each were selected to teach English at private high schools in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan for two weeks in June 2018.


  • On July 2, the Office of the Secretary of State met with Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFCC). The delegation visited Maryland to learn more about the Maryland Sister States Program. Maryland has maintained close relations with their Sister State, Anhui, a province in China.


  • On June 28, the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), Maryland Estonia Exchange Council (MEEC), and Maryland-Harju County Sister State Committee hosted a luncheon with guests including Secretary Wobensmith and staff. The luncheon was a celebration of Maryland’s close ties with Estonia.

  • On May 17, Secretary Wobensmith attended the International Sister Port Reception in Baltimore. This reception took place in conjunction with GreenPort Congress America, a sustainability-themed port conference. The reception honored the international speakers coming to the conference from several of the countries within the Maryland sister city/state relationship, including Japan, Liberia, and Germany.

    • Left: Mr. Gregory Dewart, Managing Director for Administration 

      and Customer Experience, Maryland Dept. of Commerce 

      Right: Mr. Fatih Metin, Turkish Deputy Minister of Economy

      Port Reception: Secretary Wobensmith gives remarks at the Sister Port Reception.

      Port Reception: Members of the Maryland-Liberia Sister State Committee

      attend the Sister Port Reception.​ 


  • On February 1, Lt. Governor Rutherford and Secretary Wobensmith attended and gave remarks at the opening of “Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations,” a temporary exhibit in the Jewish Museum of Maryland, honoring diplomats from around the globe who took extraordinary measures to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. This event was attended by representatives from the Embassy of Israel as well as members of the Kocaeli-Maryland (Turkey) and Negev Israel Sister State Committees.
    Picture (lower left): Lt. Governor Rutherford and Deputy Head of Mission Reuven Azar for the Embassy of Israel.

    Annual Legislative Reception

  • On January 30, the Annual Legislative Reception was held in Annapolis to celebrate the achievements of the Sister State programs of the last year. This event was attended by over 350 people, with representation from several Washington, DC embassies, Maryland legislators, and Maryland cabinet members. Maryland currently has 20 partnerships in 17 countries and several upcoming relationships.
    Photo credit: Bob Madden
  • On September ​5, 2017, Maryland and Jeollanamdo formally became Sister States. The occasion was marked with a commemorative planting of a Maryland White Oak tree in front of the Jeollanamdo Provincial Government headquarters. The Sister State MOU aims to promote trade, business and entrepreneurship, expand educational opportunities, and foster cultural and artistic exchanges.
    Asia in Maryland  
  • Maryland-based Washington Samulnori presents exciting folk rhythms of Korea with four percussive instruments: the changgo (hourglass-shaped drum), the buk (barrel drum), the jing (large gong), and the kkwaenggwari (small gong). The Korean words "sa" and "mul" mean "four things" and "nori" means "to play." The samulnori repertoire integrates farmers´ band music ("nong-ak") and ceremonial music.
  • (Right) Deputy Secretary of State Luis Borunda and Maryland - KwaZulu-Natal Sister State Committee Chair Dr. Jean Bailey welcome the delegation from the South African National Asssociation of Social Housing Organizations (NASHO) to Maryland on August 14. (Left) The Maryland-KwaZulu Natal Sister State Committee engages members of South African NASHO visiting Maryland ​and D.C. for information exchange tour and training. Members and guests met at the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.


  • Secretary Wobensmith and Deputy Secretary Borunda met with Consul General of Mexico Rafael Laveaga and Mr. Enrique Perret, ProMexico’s Regional Director for North America, for potential trade and investment opportunities between Maryland and Mexico. ProMéxico is the federal agency of the Mexican government to promote trade and investments. The Consular Section, among other missions, promotes the understanding and trade between the State of Maryland and Mexico. Maryland has a Sister State relationship with the state of Jalisco in Mexico, one of the most active Sister State relationships. Bob Horn, Chair of the Maryland-Jalisco Sister State Committee, was also present at the meeting.


  • On June 28, Loyola University, representatives from six Sister State Committees, and the Office of the Secretary of State met to exchange information on ways to advance international initiatives for both Loyola University and the Maryland Sister States. Among many speakers, Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J, President of Loyola University Maryland, spoke of potential opportunities for growth in international programs for Loyola and for the greater Baltimore area.



  • On June 30, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Peru’s Universidad de Piura established a formal partnership. The agreement was signed by Antonio Moreira, UMBC’s vice provost for academic affairs, and UDEP Rector Sergio Antonio Balarezo Saldaña via live video. This partnership includes outlines for collaboration ​between UMBC’s master’s program in teaching English as a second language (TESOL) and UDEP’s Centro de Idiomas (Center for Language). Photos by Marlayna Demond for UMBC.


  • On June 21, Consulars General from the Latin American Consular Group (GRULAC) met with the Secretary of State to discuss potential areas of cooperation between GRULAC and the State of Maryland. The countries represented were Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru. (Pictures 1 &2)
    Following this meeting, the Consul General of Peru, the Office of the Secretary of State, local business leaders and community members took part in “Doing Business with Maryland and Peru.” This event promoted business exchanges between Maryland and Peru through a panel discussion and opportunities for local businesses to interact with Peruvian business and government leaders. (Picture 3)


  • On June 9, Governor Larry Hogan welcomed Party Secretary Li Jinbin and his delegation from Anhui Province, China, where they signed a Memorandum on Strengthening Strategic Cooperation. Party Secretary Li was also met by Senate President Mike Miller and Secretary of State John Wobensmith, who hosted a banquet in honor of the Party Secretary. Maryland and Anhui Province have had a Sister State relationship since 1980.
  • Statement from the Office of the Secretary of State of Maryland on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem

    The Secretary of State hosted a gathering in Annapolis on June 7 to participate in the live-streamed event known as, “50 Years, 50 States, 2 Capitals” which celebrated the State of Israel’s recapture of the Eastern part of Jerusalem and the reunification of the city, Israel’s capital, under Israeli rule. The reunification of Jerusalem led to the reopening of the city to people of all faiths: Jews, Christians, and Muslims.


    We were joined in Annapolis by members of the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee, an organization committed to broadening ties between the citizens of Maryland and the citizens of Israel. Together we watched speakers in the two countries capitals, Jerusalem and Washington, deliver warm remarks commemorating the occasion and illustrating the commitment our two great nations have for each other.


    I join representatives from across all 50 States in congratulating Israel on the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.



  • On May 17, Secretary of State Wobensmith signed an MOU with the South Africa Department of Social Development (DSD). Present at the signing, among other guests, were South African Ambassador to the United States Mninwa Mahlangu, Maryland Secretary of Human Resources Lourdes Padilla, Chair of the Maryland/KwaZulu-Natal Sister State Committee Dr. Jean Bailey, and State Senator Will Smith (Montgomery County, District 20).
    The MOU brings together the South African DSD and 4 state agencies, Maryland Higher Education Commission, Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Department of Human Resources, and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to improve care in the sectors of early childhood education, social work, and substance and alcohol abuse prevention for both South Africa and Maryland.
  • Language Exchange Project Trip This April, Christine Lin, English Institute Advisor, DSO, and Heather Dellinger, English Institute Admissions Specialist, DSO, from Howard Community College visited Anhui Province, China and Shanghai, China.  Read more


  • On April 24, Secretary Wobensmith and Deputy Secretary Borunda met with Anhui Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Wang Xin and Delegation followed by a gift exchange. This meeting discussed investment opportunities in both states, as well as Anhui Week that is planned for early fall in Maryland.


  • On April 23, Maryland-Anhui Sister State Committee Members Bob Zhang (Chair), Susan Payne (Vice Chair), Steve Drake, and Nat Ahrens, Director of China Affairs at the University of Maryland meet with Director-General Wang Xin of the Anhui Foreign Affairs Office and Delegation. The meeting addressed closer ties as Sister States and potential investment opportunities.


  • Secretary of State John Wobensmith meets with He Jun, the Director of the Talent Work Leading Group Office of Anhui Province, along with Nathaniel Ahrens, Director of China Affairs at the University of Maryland.


  • On April 21, leaders from the Anhui Province, China, visit Annapolis for a State House tour. The Maryland – Anhui Province Sister State relationship is celebrating its 37th year.
  • With a rich cultural perspective and extensive international presence, the Sister State of Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan looks to promote diversity in our global society and to spread the message of working together as one community. Governor Kuroiwa extends an invitation to all to visit Kanagawa through this light-hearted video.
  • English language contest winners from Kanagawa, Japan visit Maryland for a week in mid-March as part of a student exchange program. On March 17, these students toured the State House and met with Deputy Secretary of State Luis Borunda. The Kanagawa Prefecture is one of the most active Maryland Sister States relationships.
  • Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Deputy Secretary Luis Borunda, and Bonnie Glick On March 7, Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Deputy Secretary Luis Borunda, and Bonnie Glick, chair of the Maryland-Negev Region, Israel Sister State Committee speak on a panel at the University of Maryland, College Park. This event was a partnership with Terps for Israel, a student organization that advocates for a strong US-Israel relationship both domestically and internationally.
  • Deputy Secretary of State Luis Borunda presents the Consul General of Peru a letter of condolence to Governor Hillbck-Guzman of the Piura region of Peru On April 4, Deputy Secretary of State Luis Borunda presents the Consul General of Peru a letter of condolence to Governor Hillbck-Guzman of the Piura region of Peru, signed by Secretary of State John Wobensmith and Roger Lawrence, President of Sister States of Maryland, Inc. This region suffered devastating flooding as a result of El Nino.


  • On February 1, the Maryland Sister States Program held its Annual Legislative Reception, a celebration of current initiatives between all of the Sister States relationships.
  • Maryland currently has 19 Sister State relationships in 17 countries and several upcoming relationships. This event was attended by over 200 people, including the Lieutenant Governor and several Consular Generals from embassies in Washington, DC.
  • Maryland – Negev, Israel Sister State Committee - Members of the Maryland – Negev, Israel Sister State Committee helped organize an advance screening of “The Zookeeper’s Wife” at the Arclight Cinema in Bethesda for a packed house of 142 guests.

The Maryland Sister States Program, a program in the International Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, was established to provide a forum for the promotion of international cooperation and understanding. Through broad-based citizen participation in a wide variety of exchanges in areas of mutual interest, the Sister States Program offers countless opportunities to develop partnerships around the world. The Maryland Sister States Program was established in 1980 and currently includes 19 relationships in 17 countries.

The Maryland Sister States Program partners with the Sister States of Maryland, Inc., a private, not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of Maryland. The Maryland Sister States Program relies on the Sister States of Maryland, Inc.’s extensive network of representative volunteer committees for development of the Maryland’s Sister State relationships. Together with the Sister States of Maryland, Inc., the Maryland Sister States Program draws upon the expertise and experience of individuals from institutions, businesses, and organizations across Maryland to support these important subnational partnerships. When added to their overseas counterparts, these committees form a powerful network both at home and abroad for fostering public/private cross-fertilization and social and economic growth.

Sister States relationships are significant in an age in which state and regional governments have an increasingly greater role in events. By giving access to policy makers, the people-to-people contacts of the Sister States Program add a human dimension to governmental interaction. They help to create a friendly and receptive climate for developing multi-faceted ties in today’s closely integrated but highly competitive environment.

For questions or information, please contact Mary E. Nitsch, Director of International Affairs by phone: 410-260-3865 or e-mail:

Maryland’s Sister State Relationships:

  • Anhui Province, China 1980
  • Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 1981
  • Nord-Pas de Calais, France 1981
  • Walloon Region, Belgium 1989
  • Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea 1991
  • Lodz Region, Poland 1993
  • Leningrad Oblast, Russia 1993
  • State of Jalisco, Mexico 1993
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1999
  • Bong and Maryland Counties, Liberia 2007
  • Harju County, Estonia 2009
  • Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam 2011
  • Kocaeli, Turkey 2012
  • County Cork, Ireland 2013
  • Ondo and Cross River States, Nigeria 2013
  • KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 2015
  • Negev Administrative District, Israel 2016
  • Jeollanamdo, South Korea 2017
  • Piura Region, Peru, anticipated 2017

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