John Lyons, the U.S. representative of Invest-in-Toulouse, discusses the Atlanta-Toulouse relationship including the donation of the Rising Phoenix sculpture.

New Members Attest that the Atlanta-Toulouse Sister City Relationship Is Alive and Well

The Atlanta-Toulouse Sister City Committee is alive and well as a reunion at the residence of Denis Barbet, the consul general of France based in Atlanta, revealed Wednesday evening.

From l to right: Larolyn Lee Willis, former chair of the Atlanta-Toulouse committee, Consul General Denis Barbet; Atlanta First Lady Sarah-Elizabeth Reed ; Lyniece Talmadge, a new member.
From l to right: Larolyn Lee Willis, former chair of the Atlanta-Toulouse committee, Consul General Denis Barbet; Atlanta First Lady Sarah-Elizabeth Reed ; Lyniece Talmadge, a new member.

More than 50 members attended the reception, which was held to welcome 16 or so new members and to wish Mr. Barbet, who is to leave Atlanta in August, good-bye.

He thanked the committee for “partnering with the consulate to promote French-American relations and friendship in the region. Besides the numerous gatherings that the committee organizes each year, you have been good ambassadors of the Atlanta-Toulouse relationship through visits to Toulouse and warmly welcoming your French counterparts here in Atlanta.”

There currently are 10 high school students from Toulouse staying with host families in Atlanta. They are experiencing both classroom attendance at local high schools and internships at Atlanta companies including the Hyatt Atlanta Hotels, New York Prime Steakhouse, Signature HealthCare Buckhead and the administrative offices of the Atlanta Public School System.

Eight Atlanta students from North Atlanta, Grady, Jackson and Therrell high schools are to visit Toulouse in a student exchange later in the year.

Cynthia Briscoe Brown, an at-large, citywide representative on the Atlanta Board of Education, said that she would like Atlanta companies interested in providing an internship opportunity for a French student to contact her. The exchange program to be an annual event eventually including as many as 40 students.

Mr. Barbet also referred to the role the committee has played in support of the annual France-Atlanta program. “The Atlanta-Toulouse Sister City Committee has been a helpful arm in welcoming our Toulouse guests, and the consulate certainly looks forward to new and old member joining us once again as we organize the 7th edition of France-Atlanta.”

From Oct. 12-22, France Atlanta 2016 will offer a dozen French-American events in the fields of culture, science, business and humanitarian aid.  This year’s program is to include an international symposium on cybersecurity at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Cartooning for Peace Forum with the French editorial cartoonist Plantu and his Atlanta counterpart Mike Luckovitch at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.

John Lyons, president of the IBS Corp. and the U.S. representative for Invest-in Toulouse, provided an overview of the relationship that dates back to 1974 and referred to the “Phoenix” statue that the committee raised the funds to have sculpted in Atlanta and presented to the city of Toulouse as a show of solidarity following the destruction of the World Trade Towers in New York and an explosion at a chemical plant in Toulouse.

In the area where the chemical factory was located before it blew up, one of the world’s leading cancer hospital and research campuses was built as well as a technical park for start-up companies benefiting from the city’s universities as well as space and aviation research.

Despite a consolidation of regions in France, Toulouse remains the largest city in the new Laguedoc-Rouissiloon-Midi-Pyrenees region.

Among the new members of the committee is Atlanta’s first lady, Sarah-Elizabeth Reed continuing an historic tradition of ties to Toulouse with the office of the Atlanta mayor.

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