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Youth and Education

P

roviding experiences in international affairs and citizen diplomacy to youth is a critical part of any sister city program. Sister

city exchanges are often the first opportunity that youth have to travel abroad, and visiting as a guest rather than a tourist

is a unique opportunity that helps them develop cross-cultural competence, maturity, and a life-long interest in diplomacy.

Activities often include short- and long-term student exchanges, virtual exchanges, and sports tournaments. Educational

exchanges, whether at the high school or college level, provide young people with the opportunity to develop professional skills

under the umbrella of citizen diplomacy. These exchanges are often described by participants as “a life-changing experience,”

and many current leaders in international affairs or diplomacy can trace their interest to their first sister city exchange.

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A n n u a l R e p o r t 2 0 1 5

San Diego, California-Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Since 2002, representatives of the La Jolla Golden

Triangle Rotary Club-San Diego have developed many

projects in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. What began as

constructing a school and creating a computer lab for

Nangarhar University (NU), resulted in a number of new

programs, eventually leading to San Diego and Jalalabad’s

establishment of a sister city relationship in 2004.

Afghan Youth Connect (AYC) is an innovative program

connecting thousands of Afghan students to the outside

world. In seven years, AYC has grown to operate

computer labs at 18 public high schools in Jalalabad.

Additionally, a central facility at NU hosts two schools

involved with AYC. These 19 sites cover all public

high schools in Jalalabad (boys and girls). In addition

to receiving IT and ELS training, the Afghan students

connect with students in San Diego through Skype and

Facebook. Since its inception, AYC has directly engaged

11,523 Afghan students (6,255 boys and 5,268 girls) and

an additional 9,030

observers - 20,553

individuals total.

Currently 6,500 Afghan

students participate

directly (or indirectly as

observers).

What Do Sister Cities Do?

San Mateo, California-Toyonaka, Japan

The San Mateo Toyonaka Sister City Association mixed

sports diplomacy and youth exchange in 2015, as the San

Mateo Sister City All-Star youth baseball team continued

a tradition that started in 1979 of traveling to San Mateo’s

sister city of Toyonaka, Japan to play five exhibition

baseball games.

Every two years, the All-Star squads from San Mateo

and Toyonaka alternate visits to each other’s cities. In a

comeback after Toyonaka beat San Mateo five games

to zero in 2013, San Mateo won three out of five games.

Despite language barrier challenges with their new friends

and homestay families, the common knowledge of

baseball connected the players on the field.

Fort Worth, Texas-Toluca, Mexico

In 2015, Fort Worth Sister Cities International teamed

university students from Toluca, Mexico up with Fort

Worth, Texas elementary school students for a two week

Spanish Immersion Camp. The Toluca students acted as

international facilitators during the two week camp and over

100 Fort Worth students participated. The Toluca students

were hosted by local families to give them a glimpse into

Fort Worth life during their stay as well as to expose host

families to native Spanish speakers.