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Duluthians fraternize with Iraqi Sister City

A scroll of brightly-painted tyvek hangs at the University of Raparin in Ranie, Iraqi Kurdistan, as part of Duluth-native Anne Labovitz’s art exhibit “122 Conversations: Person to Person, Art Beyond Borders.”1 / 4
Delegates from Duluth Sister Cities International take a picture with a group of Iraqi men during a visit to Ranie, Iraqi Kurdistan. Duluth delegates were: (back row) Jill Lakhan (third from left), Koresh Lakhan (fifth from left), Gale Kerns (third from right) and Jeri Kerns (second from right).2 / 4
Iraqi hosts shared home-cooked meals with Duluth delegates from Duluth Sister Cities International during their January trip to Ranie, Iraqi Kurdistan.3 / 4
Duluth delegates from Duluth Sister Cities International pose for a photo with a group of Iraqi women during a visit to Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan. Pictured are Duluth delegates Michele Obed (second from left), Jill Lakhan (fourth from left) and Jeri Kerns (fifth from left). 4 / 4

After nearly a month of diplomacy in Iraq, four Duluth delegates from Duluth Sister Cities International are scheduled to return home Sunday. DSCI will hold a public welcome-home ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Duluth International Airport, 4701 Grinden Drive.

The five-member group traveled to Duluth's sister city, Ranie in Iraqi Kurdistan, to promote peace and global understanding through person-to-person diplomacy. The DSCI delegates include Michele Obed; Gale and Jeri Kerns; and Koresh and Jill Lakhan. Obed will remain in Rania a bit longer.

During their visit, the group partook in cultural, economic and educational endeavors. They also delivered Duluth-native Anne Labovitz's art exhibit "122 Conversations: Person to Person, Art Beyond Borders," which is currently on display at University of Raparin.

The exhibit includes bright-colored tyvek paintings inspired by Skype conversations Labovitz had conducted with people from Duluth's five sister cities: Rania; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Växjö, Sweden; Petrozavodsk, Russia; and Ohara-Isumi City, Japan.

122 Conversations visited Thunder Bay last fall and is scheduled to go on display in the remaining Duluth sister cities — one city at a time — until its final destination at the Duluth Tweed Museum of Art in May 2018.

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