The flag of Kosovo.

A northwest Iowa town has established a sister-city relationship with a city that’s more than 52-hundred miles away.

Junik is in western Kosovo. Joe Nelson, the superintendent of the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows School District, was part of the delegation that visited Kosovo to sign the agreement.

“I can’t even tell you how well they treated us for the nine days we were there,” Nelson says. “They really, authentically want to see the partnership grow.”

Nelson says the exchanges will benefit schools, businesses, hospitals and all kinds of commerce in both cities.

“I think the thing that the Kosovars want the most is they want to send their high school students here as foreign exchange students,” Nelson says. “They realize there are great opportunities in Clarion so I think that’s one of our next steps is, how can we get their kids over here in our high school?”

Nelson is hesitant to send Clarion students to Kosovo at this time. “We’ve had a couple of kids that expressed interest and they want to go over there but as the geopolitical climate heats up in that part of the world, with Serbia just on the border, right now, we just haven’t felt like that’s a great time to be sending our kids over there,” he says, “but that time will come and we’re excited about it.”

Clarion has about 2700 residents, while Junik, Kosovo has a population of about 6000. Iowa and Kosovo have had a sister-state relationship since 2013.

(By Mitch Williams, KLMJ, Hampton and Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)