Recent & Upcoming Activities:

  • 21st Century Islam: A Malaysian Model

     Iowa Sister States (ISS), along with Iowa Resource for International Service (IRIS) and CultureAll, was proud to support the Association of Malaysian Students at Iowa State University as they presented an event that showcased how Islam inspires diversity in Malaysia. During this event we analyzed Malaysia's brand of moderate Islam. Malaysia's politics, education, and financial systems are all examples of the role that Islam plays in their culture.  These systems were discussed by keynote speakers during a panel discussion in the morning and workshops were held throughout the day.
  • One of our goals at ISS is to further the understanding of the differing cultures of Iowa and her sister states. Linked is an article from Shadi Hamid, of the Brookings Institute, explaining the role of Islam in Malaysia and how its practice differs from other Islamic countries.  Click here to read the article


Terengganu and Iowa became Sister States in 1987 through an agreement signed by Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa and Chief Minister Dato Seri Amar Di Raja of Terengganu. Over the years, there have been agriculture, education and arts exchanges. Of Iowa's nine partners around the world, Terengganu is the only Muslim Sister State. ISS has organized two conferences to education Iowans on Islam around the world.

Meet the Leadership

Janet Heinicke, Chair

Dr. Janet heinicke is a longtime ISS volunteer. She has held a variety of responsibilities in the organization since the early '90s when she first traveled to Iowa's sister state in Stavropol Krai, Russia. Of that first experience she writes "I discovered so many common interests among the Russian women I met, interests in child care, education, and equity, that I was astonished and pleased. I resolved to do whatever I could do to address the commonality of issues shared across so many miles." Her resolution led to subsequent work as chairman of the Stavropol country committee, and later to work with the Terengganu country committee as well as to the presidency of the organization. Heinicke has traveled to all but one of Iowa's sister states, She has arranged for cultural exchanges of art and artifacts and organized several people to people exchanges. Heinicke, now a retired Professor of Art from Simpson College, maintains her studio in her home in Indianola and teaches at the DM Art Center.

Terengganu, Malaysia