First, I would like to say how excited and proud I am to be part of the Santa Monica Sister Cities Association (SMSCA), and how honored I am to have been chosen to lead the organization going forward this coming year.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Sister Cities International (SCI) mission, and reading this for the first time, I would like to give you a brief explanation and share with you why our current members are so passionate about this concept.

“Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, Sister Cities International is the nation’s premier ‘citizen’ diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities, promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time.

“Sister Cities International is a nonpartisan nonprofit, currently serving as the national membership organization for 525 cities, counties, and states across the United States that have 2,012 partnerships in over 140 countries. This network unites tens of thousands of “citizen” diplomats and volunteers.

Sister City partnerships have fostered numerous economic development, arts and culture, youth, sports, municipal, and community development programs and exchanges over the years, in a spirit of international cooperation.”

My goal this year is to “brand” SMSCA to bring more awareness to our organization, and to build membership by exploring some new Sister Cities, and offering more exchanges with various cities. I would like to involve middle school students (JAMS and Lincoln), senior high school students (Samohi), and college students (SMC), and possibly recently graduated young adults looking for internships to increase their awareness globally. We will explore additional exchanges with emphasis on sports, technology, arts and music, when possible.

This summer we will be celebrating our 40th Anniversary with Fujinomiya, Japan. We will be selecting three high school students as Student Ambassadors who will host three students from Fujinomiya in July and will then spend two weeks with their counterparts in Fujinomiya in August. As part of the Anniversary celebration we will be joined by an adult delegation and a soccer team to compete in a tournament.

So we are very busy … doing a lot of positive things. Hope you will participate in our excitement and join us!

Jeff Jarow is president of the Santa Monica Sister Cities Association.

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