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Youth and Education
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.
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
Currently 6,500 Afghan
directly (or indirectly as
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
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.