In August, the Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach hosted our First Annual Gratitude Reception. Our guests included the Virginia Beach Mayor, Vice Mayor, members of City Council, our City Manager, members of the Virginia Beach Economic Development, and our generous Donors and Sponsors. This was a time of fellowship to share and celebrate our accomplishments and projects of mutual benefit which have been facilitated between the City of Virginia Beach and our international Sister Cities. The donations and sponsorships have enabled these accomplishments which would not be possible except for the overwhelming generosity of the City of Virginia Beach, our Donors, and Supporters.
Annually, in March, the Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach hosts their Youth Ambassador Gala where global-minded students show their skills and talents. This competition is open to all Virginia Beach Freshman and Junior High Students and combines talent, authentic cultural dress, an essay, and “on the spot” questions for our judges. These top three place winners receive educational scholarships for their performance. The first-place winner becomes the Sister Cities Virginia Beach “Youth Ambassador” for that calendar year. The Ambassador officially participates in representing the city in multiple annual events.
Every year, Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach holds its annual Leadership Breakfast at the Towne Center City Club focusing on the City’s support, our Donors, Supporters, and local leaders to share how Sister City partnerships and international exchanges cultivate cultural understanding by opening doors for economic development and educational exchanges. This is a time for us to share how we have helped foster old and new international friendships and meaningful relationships while promoting peace through mutual respect and understanding. Our breakfast always includes a keynote speaker as well as some type of performance from our Youth Ambassadors. By sharing our past year’s successes and next year’s future aspirations, our Breakfast encourages economic opportunities and philanthropic ideas for the city of Virginia Beach.
Providing experiences in cultural differences, international travel, and citizen diplomacy to our next generation of leaders is a critical and necessary part of the Sister City Association of Virginia Beach’s overall program goals. New experiences, through high school exchange programs, are often described by student participants as “a life-changing experience”. Although our exchanges take place through individual high school programs, the Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach cooperates with the schools by contributing to the student’s expenses for these educational exchanges as well as, keeping lines of communications open with our Sister Cities in Moss, Norway; Miyazaki City, Japan; Bangor, Northern Ireland; Olongapo, Philippines; Waiblingen, Germany and San Juan De Sur, Nicaragua. It is believed that current leaders in international affairs or diplomacy can sometimes trace their career path choices to their first sister city exchange experience, such as the President of China who, as a youth, had a homestay in Iowa and when he came to the United States in his official capacity as President, he commanded the tour included his homestay family in Iowa.
“Virginia Beach began its sister city organization in 1970, based upon President Eisenhower’s People-to-People program established September 11th,1956. The Virginia Beach Association was founded by the City Clerk in 1980, and a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt designation was authorized in 2008.”