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To Duluth, love Rania: Duluth mayor receives token from Sister City

A delegation from Duluth Sister Cities International meet with Duluth Mayor Emily Larson after their visit to a Duluth Sister City, Rania, Iraqi Kudistan. Pictured are: (from left) delegates Jill Lahkan and Jeri Kerns, Mayor Emily Larson, and delegates Michelle Obed, Koresh Lahkan and Gale Boertje-Obed.1 / 2
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson sports a handmade saddle bag gifted to her by the mayor of Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan.2 / 2

Greetings from Iraqi Kurdistan came in the form of a handmade saddle bag for Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. The large, autumn-colored side bag was presented to her by the Duluth Sister Cities International delegation who visited Duluth's Sister City, Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan, in January. The delegation gifted the bag to Larson during an April ceremony on behalf of Rania's mayor.

During their visit to Rania, the delegation — Jill and Koresh Lakhan, and Gale and Jeri Kerns — met with teachers, medical professionals and government officials to figure out ways American assistance could benefit their region. Ranian educators expressed the need for qualified English teachers while nursing educators hoped for a way to interact with their Duluth counterparts.

Duluthians Michele Obed and Greg Boertje-Obed also traveled to Rania in January but with a different purpose and for a longer period of time. Their purpose was to work with the Rayal Center — Rania's Cultural Exchange Organization — to deliver money raised by Duluth to assist with the building of a small library in Kobane, Syria.