Youth Leader Speaks Out Along with Sister Cities from Around the World

Courtesy photo    Student Director Cameron Furuichi-Fong, a member of the Board of Directors of the Alameda Sister City Association, spoke to a group of Alamedans mourning recent gun violence. Furuichi-Fong is a junior at Encinal High School.

At noon on International Youth Day, Aug. 12, a somber group of Alamedans stood in unity with hundreds of other sister city affiliates in the United States and at sister cities across the globe. The locals called for compassion, peace and community in the wake of the recent violent acts perpetrated against the cities, families and individuals in Gilroy, Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Tex.

“These tragedies resonate deeply with Sister Cities International,” read a statement released by the Alameda Sister City Association (ASCA) last week. “As a member association, the ASCA mission is to promote peace, and these violent acts go against everything we stand for.” The sister city network “acts to reduce misunderstanding and divisiveness, by connecting people to the world and cultivating strong interpersonal connections that can be leveraged and sustained for support.”

The association asserted its intention to continue its youth programming, creating the next generations of leaders and providing them a platform to speak about peace-building, strengthening communities and reducing gun violence.

ASCA’s current youth-oriented programs include: student exchanges, the snack-oriented “Bites that Bind” booth at the Tree Lighting Ceremony and an ambitious joint partnership with Blue Endeavors, a local non-profit dedicated to responsible diving, educating citizen scientists on ocean conservation.

Next year, a group of local high school-aged scuba divers will travel to Dumaguete in the Republic of the Philippines, to train together and perform reef checks and other scientific surveys with high school divers from that sister city. These divers may meet again in a different ocean to train and dive with another sister city group of high-school divers later.

Alameda’s existing sister cities are in China, South Korea and the Republic of the Philippines. Varraze, Italy, will officially join following a signing event in September.

ASCA is encouraging groups of Alamedans interested in developing sister-city relationships elsewhere in the world to contact the ASCA board secretary Michael Robles-Wong at bokjun@comcast.net or 719-9107. Learn more at www.alamedasistercity.weebly.com or www.alamedaca.gov.