What do these events have in common?

•    The city of Kyoto donates a “Japanese House” to the Boston Children’s Museum.

•    A Chicago association donates more than $200,000 worth of hearing aids to Jordan’s King Hussein Cancer Center, while also donating five ambulances to the City of Amman.

•    Students from Pasadena, California work as interns in Ludwigshafen, Germany in a program that allows young people to gain work experience in the fields in which they hope to have careers.

•    Five middle school students and junior computer coding experts from Cork, Ireland visit San Francisco, California to exchange Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) ideas.

•    Boston hosts a floating trade exhibition in Barcelona, aboard the Patriot State, the training ship of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

•    Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science hosts “An Evening on the Silk Road” in recognition of its connection to Kunming, China.

If you guessed that these are “Sister City” events, you are correct!

The Sister Cities Program was founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Its members now span 145 countries on six continents. The concept of pairing cities dates back centuries, and the term “twin towns” is frequently used in Europe for similar relationships between municipalities. In China they are referred to as “friendship cities”.
Many municipalities have several Sister Cities. For example, Boston’s sisters are Kyoto, Japan; Strasbourg, France; Barcelona, Spain; Hangzhou, China; Padua, Italy; Melbourne, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana; and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Kyoto’s gift of the Japanese House in 1979 is believed to be the most generous gift ever given to an American Sister City.
Sparked by mayoral connections, trade relationships, similar histories, demographics, and other sources, these relationships aim to foster understanding and good will. Sister cities’ dignitaries and citizens visit each other, share ideas and culture, and often sponsor youth events and student exchanges.
According to the organization Sister Cities International, the Sister Cities Program promotes world peace in an individual level and encourages citizens to better understand community, by contrasting their way of life with another culture.
Want to find your city’s Sister Cities? Use this directory, and learn something new about far-flung friends!
Written by Ellen Harris, International Product Director, Living Abroad