The importance of promoting educational exchange between Melbourne and Boston was recognised, particularly in the strong areas of medical research and the arts. So the City of Melbourne & Sister Cities Association created a series of funded fellowships, awarded annually in the fields of medical research, the arts and education. The aim of the fellowships is to provide opportunities to expand and enhance Melbourne and Boston’s reputations as centres of knowledge excellence, while strengthening international relationships in medical practices, the arts and education.
Some winners have stood out. In 2006, Dr Sharon van Doornum travelled to Boston to collaborate with leading experts on research into the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in patients with cardiovascular disease. In 2007, Dr Emma McBryde, Head of Epidemiology and Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, travelled to Boston, working on transmission models for tuberculosis. In 2010, Dr Bob Anderson moved to Boston to further his work in developing treatments into celiac disease.
Yarra River, Melbourne
Newbury St, Boston
Additionally the Boston Arts Exchange, supported by the Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association and the City of Melbourne, was introduced to connect two outstanding educational institutions: the Boston Arts Academy and the Victorian College of the Arts.
In the past both Melbourne and Boston often set aside a portion of their outdoor advertising space on city kiosks for municipal advertisements eg arts festivals; the cities simply swapped advertising space to make room for each other’s promotions. Now Boston will look a little bit Australian this northern summer when advertisements promoting Melbourne are put on benches and bus shelters around the city. At the same time, 16,900 ks away, Boston’s image will get a boost on Melbourne tram stops. The posters, which depict glowing night-time images of each city, are scheduled to go up in June and July for a month.
The two cities share strong British and Europe influences, large immigrant populations, many universities, stunning parks and gardens, museums, art galleries, top class public transport, heritage architecture, ports, a vibrant café culture and a passion for sport. But they are not going to be taking each other’s tourist trade since Boston should be visited in June-August and Melbourne is best seen from December-April.
Boston has sister cities other than Melbourne: Strasbourg, Hangzhou, Haifa, Padua, Kyoto, Barcelona, Valladolid, Taipei, Brasilia, Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana and Boston in the UK. Clearly the Bostonians hope to expand their advertising exchange to these other partners later on. Melbourne’s sister cities are, apart from Boston, Osaka, Tianjin, Thessaloniki, St Petersburg and Milan.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that my closest American friends live in Boston. I would add Vancouver in Canada as well, but alas Vancouver is not a sister city of either Melbourne or Boston.
The light rail in Boston's tree lined streets
The trams in Melbourne's tree line streets
Many thanks to William Roberts, Visiting Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art & Design, and to the Boston Globe (25th May 2013).