DIXON – The German police officer who made Dixon her home for the past 3 months plans to take pieces of the city with her back to Herzberg.
Kathrin Sure, 47, came to the Petunia City as part of a cultural exchange through the Dixon Sister Cities Association, with the goal of improving her English and experiencing the American lifestyle.
“I enjoyed every day here,” she said Wednesday at Books On First, where she was accompanied by Sister Cities President David Nelson.
One of the main differences she noticed was how much more friendly and informal people are – people in Germany aren’t too keen on striking up conversations with strangers and don’t usually use first names unless they’re close friends or family.
“I noticed people are more open here, and I like to talk with people,” Sure said.
She leaves Friday and will miss the “not too busy” atmosphere and the wide open space, as well as the many people she met.
“I’m going to go home with a tear in my eye,” she said in German.
She went on ride-alongs with the Dixon Police and Lee County Sheriff’s departments, including spending a day in the jail that reminded her of an old-timey movie with inmates in striped pajamas.
Sure also scheduled a meeting to shadow Dixon High school resource officer Mark Dallas, but that fell through – it was slated for about 20 minutes after the school shooting occurred on May 16.
She found opportunities to volunteer in the community, such as helping in the kitchen at Orom, painting nails every week at Heritage Square and pitching in at the latest Dixon Habitat for Humanity home.
“She has been a breath of fresh air in every situation,” Nelson said.
Sure has been a police officer for 24 years and formerly worked in Hamburg, which has about 1.7 million people.
During her stay, Sure was also given a letter from 1914 during World War I written in old German script to translate, and she could only make out words here and there but found a couple of elderly ladies who joined in to translate it.
Things she will be taking back to Herzberg include a charm of the Dixon arch from the association, and a jersey from Green River Cyclery.
Nelson’s wife, Claudia, gave her English lessons for 8 hours a week in Grand Detour, and Sure drove a truck that belonged to the late Harry Ulferts, a former police officer and well-known sister cities member who died in 2012.
She had many requests from community members to look up records of their German ancestors, and she hopes to find at least some answers for people.
Sure has an open invitation to visit again.
“I think I will use it,” she said.
The Dixon Sister Cities Association has ties to four cities across the globe – Herzberg, Germany; Dikson, Russia, on the Arctic Sea in northern Siberia; Castlebar, Ireland; and Thika, Kenya.