Sister Cities International serves as the national membership organization for sister city programs in nearly 500 communities, with relationships in over 2,000 communities in more than 140 countries. We provide our members with a number of programs to support them in promoting citizen diplomacy, and our members work tirelessly to promote peace and understanding through exchanges that focus on arts and culture, youth and education, business and trade, and community development. What we do (and what our members do) is essential in promoting the importance of international exchange and people-to-people relationships worldwide. Explore our programs and exchanges below.
Each year, students from member cities all over the world submit art, photography, poetry, literature, and music to our Young Artists and Authors Showcase (YAAS) according to a selected theme for a chance to win $1,000 and to display their work on a virtual exhibit on our website.
Member cities have the opportunity to host students from their sister city for a semester or year of high school in the United States. This popular exchange program is at the heart of Sister Cities International’s mission of creating bonds between people around the world.
Our annual Youth Leadership Summit (YLS), which happens concurrently with our annual conference, engages the next generation of leaders ages 14-18 and introduces them to the world of international affairs while completing simulations and service projects with like-minded peers.
Our Annual Awards Program recognizes members for outstanding achievement in a number of programmatic areas that exemplify the mission of Sister Cities International. Winners are highlighted throughout the year and are honored at the Annual Conference’s Lou Wozar Awards Banquet.
Arts and cultural programs are some of the oldest and most robust in the sister cities network. These exchanges take many different forms such as musical performances, art exhibits, peace parks and gardens, and international cultural festivals.
Providing experience 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 the experience of being a guest rather than a tourist is a unique opportunity that helps them develop cross-cultural competence and maturity.
In addition to trade delegations and tourism dollars, sister city programs create connections with international municipal officials, institutions, and businesses. These connections build trust, access, and expertise that help local businesses find new opportunities and resources.
Peer-learning between municipal employees and elected officials through sister city activities has helped cities implement innovative policies and management techniques in sanitation, water, health, transportation, tourism, economic development, and education. Sister city programs also raise funds or collect supplies for natural disasters or other emergencies in their sister cities.