Thursday, June 21, 2012

3 educators to travel to Saitama, Japan for 2 weeks as part of Richmond City Sister Cities Commission Educational Exchange program


Richmond City Council – Richmond City Hall - 900 E. Broad Street, Suite 200 - Richmond, VA 23219 -



Thursday, June 21, 2012

3 educators to travel to Saitama, Japan for 2 weeks as part of Richmond City Sister Cities Commission Educational Exchange program

In August Saitama, Japan Junior Baseball Team will visit Richmond for the 18th Annual Richmond-Saitama International Baseball Exchange

WHAT (Richmond, Virginia) - - On Saturday, June 23, 2012, three educators will travel to Saitama, Japan for two weeks as part of Richmond Sister Cities Commission Educational Exchange program.

This marks the 13th year of this successful educational exchange program between Richmond and its sister city, Saitama, Japan, which began in 1998.

During their visit, the educators will be teaching English and American culture in 12 Elementary, Middle and Junior High Schools and will be immerged in Japanese culture. The purpose of the exchange is to promote further understanding of language, culture and our global community.

Educators participating in the exchange include: Amanda Blevins, an Exceptional Educational Paraprofessional for Kindergarten at Richmond Public Schools Chimborazo Elementary School; Bev Spaven, a retired Henrico County Public Schools Kindergarten and 5th-grade Resource Teacher; and, Emmett Burke, a 7th and 8th grade History Teacher at Richmond Public Schools Elkhardt Middle School.

In March of this year, 10 high school students and two teachers from Urawa Municipal High School in Saitama, Japan visited Richmond to as part of a week-long Richmond Sister Cities Commission Educational Exchange program.

On August 2, 2012, the Saitama, Japan Junior Baseball Team will arrive in Richmond for the 18th-Annual Richmond-Saitama International Baseball Exchange. The first baseball exchange began in Richmond in 1994.

CONTACT For more event information, please contact: Ms. Catherine E. Nexsen, Chairman, Richmond Sister Cities Commission, Richmond, Virginia-Saitama, Japan, at 804.355.2780 (tel); 919.902.4704 (mobile) (email);

or Keiko Tonegawa, Superintending Clerk, First Supervision Division

School Education Department, Saitama City Board of Education, at

011-81-48.829.1662 (tel); (email)

BACKGROUND __________________________________________________________________________

One of Richmond City Council's 55 official boards, task forces and commissions that assist it with providing oversight of certain projects and priorities, the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission was established by Council in 1980 and operates under Council guidelines and by requirements of the Sister Cities International organization, located in Washington, D.C.

An early champion of international relations, Richmond began a relationship with its namesake, Richmond Upon Thames, England, in 1930. In 1956 a formal Sister City concept was established in the United States of America by U. S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Eisenhower's idea called for exchanges between Americans and people in other countries, with a goal of fostering peace, understanding and harmony.

The term “Sister City” is used to express a closeness that is engendered through commonalities between communities. Formal friendships are then established to promote cultural understanding and educational and economic prosperity.

For example, cities linked with Richmond are generally capital cities with comparable populations, notable points of historic interest, and potential opportunities for economic development and trade.

Globally, there are more than 2,400 Sister City partnerships in 134 countries. Nineteen Virginia cities represent approximately 50 of those partnerships. This includes seven in Richmond.

Richmond Sister City Relationships

Richmond currently maintains the following Sister City relationships:

1. Richmond upon Thames, England (Europe)

2. Saitama City, Japan (Asia)

3. Olsztyn, Poland (Eastern Europe)

4. Uijeongbu, South Korea (Asia)

5. Windhoek, Namibia (Africa)

6. Zhengzhou, China (Asia)

7. Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa)


Throughout the year, Richmond City Council receives requests from citizens and interested cities regarding its Sister Cities Program, which are shared with the Commission.

Recent Sister Cities Activities _____________________________________________________________

Republic of Mali

Richmond’s partnership with Segou is Richmond's city’s newest Sister City relationship. Richmond and Segou became Sister Cities in 2009 following the adoption of Richmond City Council Resolution 2009-R99-109, adopted July 27, 2009 that invited Segou to be a formal Sister City of Richmond, and the formalization of the relationship in Richmond on October 12, 2009 with a visiting delegation of dignitaries from Segou.

In April 2010 Richmond was awarded a $115,000 grant from Sister Cities International for a two-year African Sustainability Project that will be used to assist with performing projects in Segou that will assist with addressing sanitation, health, and water issues. On May 10, 2010 Richmond City Council received and welcomed a visiting delegation from the Republic of Mali. The delegation included six members of the country’s government who were in Richmond for the day as part of a government training program sponsored by the Institute for Global Training, USAID in Washington D.C. and were being show state and local government by the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center’s Virginia Institute of Government.

On October 6, 2010 the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission and members of Richmond City Council and the Richmond Government Administration welcomed The Honorable Ousmane K. Simaga, Mayor of Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa); The Honorable Madani Sissoko, Councilman, Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa), President of the Segou Sister City Commission; and, a number of additional dignitaries from Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa), during its monthly meeting.

Richmond upon Thames

2008 visit from the Mayor and Councilmember's to Richmond; 2007 visit of Mayor and Councilmembers. Coordinated planning and events leading up to Virginia’s 400th-year celebration in 2007.

Zhenghou, China

Continue supporting teacher exchanges and exchanges of art and culture through museums, economic trips to China (conducted by Governor of Virginia with representation from Richmond). A book collection was presented to Richmond citizens from Zhengzhou citizens, which is displayed at the City’s Main Library.

Saitama, Japan

Annual student, academic, sports and cultural exchange programs.

Windhoek, Namibia

August 2007: the U.S. State Department brought a camera crew to Richmond from Windhoek coordinated events. July 2003: Richmond donated a Fire Truck to Windhoek.

Uijeongbu, South Korea

Includes relationships with the Richmond Korean community and business exchange as well as educational and cultural programs.

The Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission consists of 13 members, of whom at least one is a Councilmember. Commission members are appointed by Richmond City Council for a term consisting of three years and no person appointed is eligible to serve more than two successive terms, although persons appointed to fill vacancies may serve two additional successive terms. Members appointed to the Commission are required to either reside or work in the City of Richmond. Originally comprised of 19 members, in 2009 membership was lowered to 13.

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Steven R. Skinner, APR

Council Public Information Manager



Richmond City Hall

900 E. Broad Street, Suite 305

Richmond, Virginia 23219

804.646.6052 (office)

804.335.4054 (mobile)

804.937.1386 (home/mobile)

804.646.5468 (fax) (email)


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