A tale of two cities: The Mediterranean hosts a benefit dinner for Asheville Sister Cities

AT THE MEDITERRANEAN: The Mediterranean's Husband and wife owners, Pete and Paula Apostolopoulas, will prepare the food for the upcoming Sister Cities Greek dinner. Photo by Thomas Calder

Greek salad, marinated shrimp and lamb shanks will be among the items on the menu at the Asheville Sister Cities Greek Dinner on Sunday, June 12. The Mediterranean Restaurant will host the event, with food prepared by owners Pete and Paula Apostolopoulas. All proceeds benefit Asheville Sister Cities, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote international awareness and maintain relations with Asheville’s sister cities Vladikavkaz, Russia; San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico; Saumur, France; Karpenisi, Greece; Valladolid, Mexico; and Osogbo, Nigeria.

“We’re members,” says Paula. “My husband [Pete] is from Karpenisi and was one of the founders for the Sister Cities there.”

First created in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, Sister City International’s mission continues to be the promotion of peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation. Its emphasis is on city-to-city relationships based on similarities, including geography, economy and infrastructure.

“I like to call it a dating process,” says Gwen Hughes, a member of the special projects committee for the organization’s local Asheville branch. “Someone comes to Asheville Sister Cities and says we think we should be sister cities — we have a castle, you have the Biltmore Estate; we’re on a river, you’re on a river. We’d be a good pair.”

Once the initial connection is suggested, a small delegation travels to the proposed sister city to determine if the two make a good match. Then an agreement is signed. “We call that getting engaged,” explains Hughes. Following the engagement, the cities two mayors discuss shared goals and objectives they have for the relationship. “They might like to see college-age students participate in exchanges or pen pal relationships going back and forth between elementary schools,” Hughes says.

The final agreement is sent to Sister City International in Washington, D.C. Upon approval, official documents are sent to both cities putting the relationship into action for perpetuity — in short, a marriage. Unless, of course, someone takes action to cancel the agreement (a divorce, if you will). “Which has never happened, as far as I know,” says Hughes.

In 2004, this was how Asheville and Karpenisi came into partnership. “Eighty percent of all the Greeks in Asheville are from our sister city,” says Hughes. Guests who attend the Greek dinner at The Mediterranean will have the chance to learn more about the organization’s projects and objectives. They will also get to hear from a group of Asheville Sister Cities members who recently returned from a 10-day trip to Karpenisi. “They’re going to give us a report of what they saw,” says Paula. “It’ll be a fun evening. You’ll get to meet a lot of people and hear about the sister city from Greece.”



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “A tale of two cities: The Mediterranean hosts a benefit dinner for Asheville Sister Cities

  1. Grant Milin

    Thanks for hanging in there all these years Mediterranean Restaurant. Thanks for promoting healthy global civilization Asheville Sister Cities.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.