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Who We Are and What We Do


Painted Rock Wall near Sister City Duhok, Kurdistan, Iraq


The Greater Gainesville International Center, or GGIC, is both old and new. Our mission, to serve as a regional hub to better elevate, celebrate and empower our local international community, is nothing especially new to our area. Gainesville has long attracted people from around the world. Whether to work, study, teach or explore, we have always sought to welcome families from near and far.


GGIC’s story really goes back to 1982 and the establishment of the Gainesville-Novorossiysk (the Soviet Union) Sister City partnership. It was the first ever US-Soviet Union pairing, and led to more than 200 more similar partnerships in the years to follow. Sister Cities, first conceived by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at a 1956 White House summit on citizen diplomacy, was meant to, “... envision a network that would be a champion for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world.” President Eisenhower, having witnessed the devastation of war first-hand, reasoned that people from different cultures could understand, appreciate, and celebrate their differences while building partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts.


Since that bold beginning, Gainesville’s commitment to becoming a new global city and establishing a welcoming environment for all people has not waivered. We now host visiting delegations from around the world almost every week. Visitors come to learn, share and grow in our mutual understanding of one another. Whether through the University of Florida, Santa Fe College, the Chamber of Commerce, Welcoming Gainesville/Alachua County, Sister Cities, or any of the dozen’s of other community organizations dedicated to helping make Gainesville a new global city, we are beginning to unlock our full commitment to our international neighbors.


Teaching the Gator Chomp to the Mayor of Jerusalem


In order to fully realize our full potential as an international community, we must better coordinate and collaborate to best serve our neighbors. GGIC’s mission is supported by four main pillars: Cultural celebrations and exchange, Education and Outreach, Economic Empowerment and Direct Services. In the coming weeks, I will share more deeply how we intend to strengthen each of these pillars to create a stronger and more engaged community.


Storytelling workshop at the GGIC International Food Festival


Our goals are both aspirational and rooted in our history. We look forward to working with you and the rest of our community to fully become the international community that serves all people. Subscribe to our newsletter ( at the bottom of our gnvic.org page) to learn more and keep up to date with local and international opportunities to participate, and please consider making a donation to help us further our mission.

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