The Mayor of Lewes extolled the values of twin towns when she attended a milestone event in France.
Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe said the amicable arrangement opened doors and gave people a chance to see another view of life.
Speaking at Lewes’ twin town Blois, she displayed her linguistic talents by addressing her audience in both French and German.
The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the treaty linking Lewes, Blois and Waldshut in Germany.
Cllr O’Keeffe told guests assembled at the historic chateau: “Twinning is a process which all citizens can be involved with, and each to the degree that they wish and feel able to.
“There are benefits from every level of involvement, and it is not necessary to be someone usually considered to be in charge of events to be an active part of twinning exchanges.
“Because of the nature of twinning it is a very accessible way for any individual to meet people from a town in another country within the context of an activity that both parties already enjoy and have skills at.
“Language barriers are broken down in a common love of music, art, theatre, sport, or simply through the interaction of children from twinned towns in exchange visits to find out about how their peers live in another country.
“Twinning opens doors. It gives people a chance to see another view on life. It reminds them of not only the interesting differences but the surprising similarities between themselves and people who live somewhere else.
“It celebrates that we are all human whilst respecting and sharing what makes each of us individuals within our own culture.”
Cllr O’Keeffe presented her fellow Mayors from Blois and Waldshut with plates made by Lewes potter Mo Hamid, bearing the crests of the three towns.
Jackie Price, Chair of Lewes Twinning Association, said: “Although twinning between Blois and Lewes officially began in 1963, for my family it started in March 1947 when my father first came to Blois as a schoolboy. On that occasion he met the Duval family and 66 years later the friendship between our two families continues.”
Friendship was the most important thing about twinning for her and she considered herself fortunate to have learned so much about the way of life, customs and culture of the twin towns.