Since its permanent settlement in the 1850s, the City of Boulder has been a Western hub of thought, culture, and appreciation for natural beauty. Since the 1980s, Boulder’s uniqueness has allowed it to participate in the international sister cities program, a program whose ongoing success is reflected throughout the city.
Boulder shares a bond with seven sister cities all across the globe (in Tajikistan, Nicaragua, China, Mexico, Japan, Cuba, and Kenya); through these bonds, Boulder has experienced an objectively positive exchange of culture. The international sister city movement began in 1947, following World War II, and is an effort to create human understanding by uniting cities through cultural connections and exchanges that transcend borders.
Boulder’s first sister city was established with a formal agreement with Dushanbe in 1987—the capital and largest city of Tajikistan. The Dushanbe Tea House was generously gifted to the City of Boulder by her sister city in 1988; it is currently located on 13th Street in Downtown Boulder, and is one of the most beautiful pieces of art and culture in Colorado.
The Teahouse was built completely by hand, without the use of power tools, and shipped from Tajikistan in 1988. The Teahouse features an intricately colored, patterned, and shaped architectural style that reflects an artistic history of Central Asia. Built as a symbol of friendship and cultural engagement, the Teahouse is a humanizing link to the mountainous regions of the East, and creates a common understanding between two unique cultures.
The uniqueness of a city lies not only in the land; it comes from the culture and values shared by the people. There is a very calming and spiritual warmth that can be felt through appreciating the art, tea, and mountainous backdrop of the Dushanbe Tea House in downtown Boulder. Personally, I like to believe that there is something about the Tea House that transcends its surface beauty; just the thought that in Tajikistan, there could be another human being, like me, enjoying a similar cup of tea, in a similar style of teahouse, surrounded by the mountains, makes the thousands of miles between Boulder and Dushanbe seem a little bit smaller. Consequently, I can’t help but feel a little more human.