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Interview with the President of Our Counterpart Organization in Germany

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

An Interview with Prof. Dr. Kristina Sinemus, President of the Freundschaftsverein Hessen-Wisconsin e.V, the head of our counterpart organization in Wisconsin's Partner State in Germany

Question:

Wisconsin does not have a state agency that is the exact counterpart for Hessen’s Ministry for Digital Strategy and Development. Tell us a little about the responsibilities of your ministry.

Answer:

First of all our vision for Hessen is digitalization that serves people and makes their everyday lives easier. With the establishment of our ministry in 2019 we laid the foundation and work closely with all ministries in Hesse to bundle our activities in digitalization. Therefore, we have a budget of 1.2 billion Euros to coordinate these projects and are solely responsible for the whole infrastructure, the foundation of progress that everyone benefits from. Our strategy ensures the best networks for Hesse – from broadband coverage and public WLAN all the way to 5G and next gen 6G. With our digital strategy we have roadmap and a clear vision of Hesse 2030.


Question:

What are some other topics on which Wisconsin and Hessen are cooperating?

Answer:

Hesse and Wisconsin are cooperating in a large variety of projects. The focus is on promoting district, city and school partnerships. For example, 66 existing school partnerships include regular student exchange trips that have enabled more than 3,000 students to visit partner schools in Wisconsin since 1991. There are also partnerships and exchange programs between universities in Hesse and renowned universities in Wisconsin. The intensification of economic relations between Wisconsin and Hessen is another important component of the cooperation, with particular emphasis on cooperation in the field of biotechnology.


Question:

Hessen has partnered with several other states and regions in other countries. How do those differ from the relationship between Hessen and Wisconsin?

Answer:

The United States of America has long been a firm and reliable partner alongside Europe, Germany and also Hesse. Hesse and Wisconsin are now linked by a 46-year partnership. It is considered the first partnership between a U.S. state and a german state. These historically close ties between Germany and Wisconsin are also reflected in the population. Thus, a large portion of the residents are descended from european or german immigrants. These facts alone make the connection to Wisconsin special and important.


Question:

You have a personal connection to Wisconsin. Please tell us about that.

Answer:

During my school time in my hometown Bad Arolsen we had a very engaged english teacher who told us a lot about school exchange and I met Tommy Thompson several times resulting in a close personal relationship. My daughter was in Madison too and I’m in contact with several people until now.


Question:

What are some of your fondest memories of trips to Wisconsin?

Answer:

The warm-hearted people, idyllic and beautiful nature, extensive know-how, tasty cheese, delicious beer and fantastic boating on the lake in Madison. I remember that it can be there icy cold too.


Question:

What new projects or partnerships between Wisconsin and Hessen would you most like to see in the next few years.

Answer:

Over the past 50 years, the partnership has developed positively in a variety of areas. In the beginning, the main focus was on student exchanges, but today there is a wide range of economic, scientific and cultural cooperation. As we already have achieved an important strengthening of ties between Wisconsin and Hessen after 46 years of exceptional partnership I would like to take this opportunity to express my hope to continue this great relationship and maintain a regular contact on issues of the partnership between Wisconsin and Hesse.

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