Council Votes To Add Sister City In Vietnam

(This article contains excerpts from article by Alicia Robinson, published in the Press-Enterprise on March 18, 2014.)

INTERNATIONAL SISTERS

Riverside will add Can Tho, Vietnam, to its already large collection of sister cities.  Riverside has sister city relationships with Sendai, Japan; Ensenada and Cuautla, Mexico; Obuasi, Ghana; Hyderabad, India; Gangnam, South Korea; Jiangmen, China; and Erlangen, Germany.

The ideas of “people to people” relationships and healing after war won out Tuesday, March 18, when the Riverside City Council narrowly voted to add Can Tho, Vietnam, as its ninth sister city.  The decision came after lengthy and impassioned public comments on the goals of the sister city program and whether having such a relationship in Vietnam would disrespect American veterans.

“The purpose is to promote peace and common understanding,” said Bill Gavitt, a Vietnam veteran. “It’s time to start helping others if we want to change their behavior.”

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, has spearheaded efforts to add Can Tho, Vietnam, to Riverside's sister city program.  Photo Credit:  Alicia Robinson

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, has spearheaded efforts to add Can Tho, Vietnam, to Riverside’s sister city program. Photo Credit: Alicia Robinson

The vote was 4-3. Councilmen Chris Mac Arthur, Steve Adams and Mike Soubirous dissented.

Riverside was among the earliest participants in the sister city program, which was created in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster cultural, educational and economic exchange between countries. Riverside formed ties with Sendai, Japan, in 1957 and has since added sister cities in South Korea, China, India, Ghana and Germany, and two in Mexico.

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, helped revive the idea of a sister city in his native country in 2012. He personally met with veterans’ groups in the past year and a half to build support for the plan.  “We have every reason to hate communism,” he said, describing how his family was rescued by American soldiers during the war. “I will never forget the past, but the past will not determine my future.”

Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey has said his office spends about $10,000 on the sister city program annually, but most other costs are borne by the International Relations Council, a private nonprofit group that oversees the friendships and raises money for related events and travel.

Like Riverside, Can Tho is home to a university and a medical college, and it’s an agricultural center producing fruit and rice.

Adding Can Tho to Riverside’s collection of international sister cities is a model of the seizing our destiny pillar, unified city.  We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

Riversiders respect and value the cultural heritage, distinct needs and varied input of each of our neighbors, while proactively engaging them across historical dividing lines.  Riversiders are working together everyday to not only address local issues, but to also have a positive impact on the region, nation and world…

To read the full article, click here.

Tohoku University Center at UC Riverside Creates Opportunities for Sister Cities Sendai and Riverside

(Includes excerpts from the article published in the Press-Enterprise written by Mark Muckenfuss)

On February 11, 2013 UCR and Riverside officials hosted representatives of the Japanese university to officially mark the establishment of the new UC Riverside Tohoku University Center, which will act as a funnel for Tohoku students wanting to study here. It also will assist UCR students who want to travel in the other direction.

Visiting Japanese college student Yuri Teraoka, 20, from Tohoku University in Sendai, collects prickly pear cactus cuttings with a classmate from a cactus farm at the El Sobrante Landfill in Corona for re-planting elsewhere on the property. (photo by David Bauman, PE staff photographer; source: PE.com)

Visiting Japanese college student Yuri Teraoka, 20, from Tohoku University in Sendai, collects prickly pear cactus cuttings with a classmate from a cactus farm at the El Sobrante Landfill in Corona for re-planting elsewhere on the property. (photo by David Bauman, PE staff photographer; source: PE.com)

Tohoku University is in Sendai, which has been a sister city to Riverside for more than 50 years. It is one of Japan’s largest universities with 10 separate colleges and nearly 20,000 students. UCR has slightly more than 21,000 students.

Officials said the new center will further strengthen the connection between the two cities, a relationship that escalated a notch two years ago when Riverside reached out in support following a large earthquake and tsunami that destroyed much of the Sendai region.

The two universities began talking about expanding their cooperative program three years ago. And last year, the Japanese government awarded Tohoku University a $10 million grant to increase international study over the next five years. Tohoku will be sending its international study students exclusively to UCR.

“This is one of a kind,” said Bronwyn Jenkins-Deas, director of International Education Programs for UCR Extension.

What makes it different, she said, is the effort to connect the exchange students’ projects beyond the campus, such as the ecological work at the El Sobrante Landfill.

“Both of us are going to work really hard to get the students into the community,” Jenkins-Deas said of the two universities.

Beyond the environmental projects, the current crop of students will be assigned to alternative energy and engineering work beyond the campus boundaries. Jenkins-Deas foresees assignments with city government, local schools and museums.

“I see at least 70 new projects that could come as a result of this,” she said. “Every time we contact someone, about five more ideas come out of things we can do in the future. It just builds, and it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Creating opportunities for students and the community through the relationships and collaborations with our international sister cities demonstrates Riverside’s commitment to intelligently growing the economy through inventive and multi-disciplinary approaches.

Read the full article as published in the Press-Enterprise.

Sister City Art Exchange Builds Connections Across the Border

Riverside has established Sister City relationships with 7 different cities around the world. These relationships are important to the community because they foster opportunities for educational development and cultural exchanges for residents and businesses in Riverside.

In 1976, the City of Riverside created a Sister City relationship with Ensenada, Mexico centered on municipal cooperation, public safety and health, as well as building art alliances. Over the years, there has been continuous support for these art alliances through partnerships between the Riverside Community Arts Association (RCAA) and the International Relations Council of Riverside.

RCAA has organized five sister city cultural exchange projects with Ensenada over a four-year period. The most recent exchange includes art work from 21 Riverside area residents, and was the focus of an August 22, 2012 Press Release from RCAA published in the Press Enterprise. Mark Schooley, RCAA’s executive director, and coordinator of the project, has organized cultural exchanges between Riverside and three of the City’s international sister cities – Sendai, Ensenada, and Jiangmen since 2007.

The following is an excerpt from the Press Release describing the exhibits currently on display in Ensenada:

“The Road of Art” features works by 21 Riverside area artists and works by students from Riverside’s Arizona Middle School, along with works by youth from HeART Enterprises community youth program. The exhibit is taking place at the Riviera Cultural Center.

“The exhibit features some of the best artists from our region, and showcases the diversity of our Riverside artists,” according to Schooley. The other two exhibits are at the Terra Peninsular Center, an environmental organization that works on ecological research and advocacy in the Baja region.

On view at the center are 22 artworks created by Schooley during his trips to Ensenada to work on sister city activities. Also, an exhibit titled “Nature’s Way” by 10 artists from the group, Plein Air Artists of Riverside, is on view. This artist’s group paints in outdoor settings exclusively and is affiliated with the Riverside Art Museum.

The Ensenada cultural exchange will also be showcased during the October 4, 2012 Long Night of Arts & Innovation celebration from 6 p.m. to midnight with an exhibit on traditional arts and crafts from the Kumiai tribe of Northern Baja California.

The City of Riverside’s Sister City program reflects the community’s commitment to creating cross-cultural relationships based on art, education, information and trade exchanges. As a City of Arts & Innovation, Riverside is proud to participate in Art Alliance programs like those in Ensenada, which allow the City to promote a culture of lifelong learning for all through innovations in art, music, and cultural expressions. 

Read the full RCAA Press Release from the Press Enterprise.

Learn more about Riverside’s Sister City Program.