Thursday, July 9, 2015

Richmond at epicenter of Virginia international relations as Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission hosts the 2015 Virginia Statewide Sister Cities Conference this Friday

Richmond City Council – Richmond City Hall - 900 E. Broad Street, Suite 305 - Richmond, Virginia  23219 U.S.A.  -

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Richmond at epicenter of Virginia international relations as Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission hosts the 2015 Virginia Statewide Sister Cities Conference this Friday

All are invited and encouraged to attend.

WHAT          (Richmond, Virginia U.S.A.) – Richmond is positioned at the epicenter of Virginia international relations as the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission hosts the 2015 Virginia Statewide Sister Cities Conference in on Friday, July 10, 2015.

      Serving as the catalyst and organizer of the event, the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission will host representatives of local Sister Cities entities from cities, towns and regions across the Commonwealth.

      Sister City relationships are formalized friendships between two cities (or local areas) in different countries and serve to mutually benefit them by sparking, increasing and nurturing educational and economic opportunities. There are more than 20 local Sister Cities entities across Virginia.

      Those interested in the conference may register at the door the morning of the event. Registration is $25 and includes a light breakfast and lunch.


WHEN          Friday, July 10, 2015

8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.      
WHERE         Richmond Times-Dispatch Building – 1st Floor Community Room
300 East Franklin Street; Richmond, Virginia
PARKING: Free Parking is available in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Parking Deck, located on 3rd Street – between East Grace and East Franklin Streets

WHO            Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission

CONTACT     For more info, please contact Ms. Julia Martin, at 757.418.0882 (tel); and/or

AGENDA    The agenda for the conference is as follows:

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.   
Registration and Welcome / Continental Breakfast
Welcome remarks by special guest-TBD.

9:00 a.m.
Call to Order and Welcome
Call to Order by Ruth Hodges Fraser, Virginia State Coordinator, Sister Cities International; Brief welcoming remarks by Richmond Sister Cities Chair Dr. Patricia Cummins and Richmond City representative TBD.

9:20 a.m. Introductions
Introductions of each city delegation.

9:30 a.m.
Sister Cities International Greeting
SCI salutation by Mary Kane, President and CEO, introduced by
Patricia Cummins, PhD, Chair of the Richmond Sister Cities Commission.

9:45 a.m.
Sister Cities in Action: A Facilitated Exploration
Breakout sessions in small groups organized by continent to brainstorm Best Practices, generate new ideas, and discover some of the innovative activities cities around Virginia are initiating.

10:45 a.m.

11:00 a.m.
Sister Cities Success Stories
In the style of a TED Talk, five city representatives each present a 10-minute showcase of their organizations’ pioneering Sister Cities projects and initiatives. Featuring: Catherine Scherer- Norfolk Sister Cities Association; Kate Helwig- Newport News Sister Cities; Bert Dodson- Sister City of Lynchburg; Ruth Hodges Fraser - Virginia Sister Cities Association, Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach; Barbara Nesbitt- Richmond Sister Cities Commission.

Lunch and Keynote Address
Remarks by Anne Goddard, President and CEO of ChildFund, International, a global child development organization headquartered in Richmond. Anne has more than three decades of international development experience, and recently traveled to New Zealand, West Africa and Latin America to visit ChildFund programs.

1:00 p.m.
Sister Cities Spotlight: From Richmond to Ségou
The Richmond-Ségou sister city relationship began with an African Urban Poverty and Alleviation Program (AUPAP) grant from Sister Cities International and was followed by other humanitarian projects, university research on healthcare, sports and youth projects, and most recently a Richmond House initiative with ground breaking for a building this month. Visiting Ségou representatives join us to discuss these projects.


2:30 p.m.
“You Are Never Too Young” – A Panel Discussion
An interactive group discussion on the best ways to engage young volunteers in Sister Cities programs and activities. Featuring: Rev. Ralph Brown- Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission; Mary Jo Fassié - Roanoke Valley Sister Cities, Inc.; Shannon Wilson-Gonzalez - Richmond Sister Cities Commission; Sabrina Boggs- Richmond Sister Cities Commission; Mikey Saoma- Virginia Commonwealth University.

3:15 p.m.
Participant Takeaway
In small groups, participants will share their key lessons learned and creative takeaways from the day.

3:30 p.m.
Ruth Hodges Fraser, Virginia State Coordinator, Sister Cities International

Note: agenda subject to change.

Background on the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission ______________
The Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission was established by Richmond City Council in 1980 and consists of 13 members. One of more than 50 boards, task forces, and commissions created to assist Richmond City Council with providing oversight of certain projects and priorities, the Sister Cities Commission operates under Council guidelines as well as the 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 the peoples of 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 cities with comparable populations, notable points of historic interest, and potential opportunities for economic development and trade.

Richmond Sister City Relationships
Richmond currently maintains the following Sister City relationships:
      1.  Richmond upon Thames, England (Europe)
      2.   Saitama City, Japan (Asia)
      3.   Windhoek, Namibia (Africa)
      4.  Zhengzhou, China (Asia)
      5.  Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa)

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

Some Examples of Sister Cities Activities _________________________________________

Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa)
Richmond’s partnership with Segou, Republic of Mali, is Richmond’s newest Sister City relationship. Richmond and the city of Segou became Sister Cities following the adoption of Richmond City Council Resolution 2009-R99-109, adopted July 27, 2009, that invited Segou to become a formal Sister City of Richmond. The relationship was formalized in Richmond on October 12, 2009, with a visiting delegation of dignitaries from Segou.

   In April 2010 Richmond was awarded a grant of $115,000 by Sister Cities International for a two-year African Sustainability Project to address sanitation, health, and water issues in Segou. 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, and USAID in Washington D.C. The delegation was also shown state and local government by the Virginia Institute of Government, part of the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center.
   On October 6, 2010, the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission, along with 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, England (Europe)
In 2007 Richmond was honored with a visit from the Mayor and Councilmembers from Richmond upon Thames, Richmond’s Sister City in England. The delegation visited in the coordination and planning of events leading up to Virginia’s 400th Anniversary celebration in 2007. The following year, Richmond was again honored with a visit from the Mayor and Councilmembers from Richmond upon Thames in 2008.

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

Saitama, Japan (Asia)
The Sister Cities of Richmond, Virginia and Saitama, Japan continue their annual student, academic, sports, and cultural exchange programs.

  • Richmond has an ongoing annual baseball exchange with Saitama, which began in Richmond in 1994 and rotates each year from Richmond to Saitama.
    (Note: The 2011 exchange was canceled due to the tragic earthquake and tsunami that severely impacted Japan.)

·         From August 3-8, 2012 Richmond welcomed Japanese Little League Baseball team players for the 18th Richmond City Council Sister Cities Richmond-Saitama International Junior Baseball Exchange. This exchange marked the return of the annual event for the first time since 2010, as the 2011 events were canceled due to the tragic earthquake and tsunami that severely impacted Japan. During their week-long stay, the little leaguers enjoyed international cultural exchange, and played baseball games with Little League teams in the Richmond area. The visiting Saitama team included 17 players, one City Official, four coaches, and an emergency technician. The games and friendships fostered during the little leaguers’ visit to Richmond are sterling examples of the partnership and collaboration between Richmond and Saitama.

·         On June 23, 2012, three educators from Saitama, Japan, visited Richmond for two weeks as part of the Richmond Sister Cities Commission Educational Exchange program. That visit marked the 13th year of this successful educational exchange program, which began in 1998.

·         In March of 2012, 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.

Windhoek, Namibia (Africa)
·         August 2007: the U.S. State Department brought a camera crew to Richmond from Windhoek, Namibia, and coordinated events.

·         July 2003: Richmond donated a Fire Truck to Windhoek.

For more information on the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission, please visit the webpage, at