A small community like Lyndhurst may seem lost in a sea of towns spanning the globe. But for the Mayor of Kukes city, Albania, Lyndhurst was the perfect candidate to become its “twin” community. How does a city in a country across the globe become a twin to Lyndhurst? It all started with a letter from Bashkim Shehu, Mayor of Kukes, a city in Kukes County, one of twelve constituent counties in the Republic of Albania. Mayor Shehu sent a letter to Mayor Robert Giangeruso back in February proposing the alliance because of the number of Albanian Nationals who live in Lyndhurst. As a result, Mayor Shehu felt that it presented the perfect opportunity in, “facilitating mutual understanding among our nations and cultures and help us in sharing in all areas of life of the community and its citizens by positively promoting municipal development.”
Mayor Giangeruso loved the idea and together, both mayors arranged for Mayor Shehu, along with his local Albanian Parliament Representative, his engineer and director of finance to travel to America and visit the township. In what was an insightful and delightful three-day series of events, the Albanian visitors had the chance to learn all about Lyndhurst, see first-hand the construction of the new, state-of-the-art junior high school and exchange ideas and information on the challenges facing local government. “The scope of this cooperative program is not only to develop a friendship as ‘Sister Cities’, but to strengthen the relationship between us by way of sharing interests and challenges and learning to improve local government,” remarked Mayor Giangeruso.
The three-day event commenced with a dinner at Il Villagio, sponsored by BCB Bank of Lyndhurst, during which gifts and well-wishes were exchanged, including the presentation of the Key to the City by Mayor Giangeruso to Mayor Shehu. The ensuing schedule of events included a tour of the township and facilities, meetings with department heads, a tour of the junior high school construction site, presentations by Lyndhurst School’s Superintendent, Anthony Grieco, Joseph De Corso, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, architects Di Cara Rubino on the new school, Police Chief James O’Connor, Fire Chief Joseph Abruscato and Township Historian Scott Ackerson.
As the Albanian contingent prepared to return to their country, both mayors agreed that there is much we can learn from one another with regard to local government and how we deliver services to the people. We all face the same issues and struggles. And both agreed that despite our geographical and cultural distances, at the end of the day, we are all far more alike than we are different. The mayors agreed to continue to exchange information and updates on important community issues facing each other.