Record Number of Sister Cities Exchange Students in Pasadena

RACHEL YOUNG

7:08 pm | July 29, 2013

students called to each other as they left the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee BBQ on Sunday.

This German phrase exchanged between an American and a German meaning “see you tomorrow,” shows these students are taking a step of courage to make friends with people of other cultures and overcome differences at the people to people level.

The Pasadena Sister Cities Committee hosted a BBQ to celebrate the seven students here from the sister cities in Germany, Armenia, Finland, and Japan as well as the three students who recently returned from Germany and Finland through the program.

This was first time to have so many students in Pasadena at the same time as the American students are usually away when the foreign students come here. The BBQ provided a perfect place to share their experiences and stories.

“People to people is different than government to government. That is the idea about Sister Cities, it is that people to people connection that they have because they have been here and that our students have because they have been there,” volunteer Michael Warner said.

The Sister Cities Committee provides a new home in Pasadena each week for the students visiting from Japan, Armenia, Finland, and Germany over the summer so that each family can show what they love about Pasadena. The students stay from two-six weeks.

One couple has been involved for over 25 years. Gary, a 79-year-old who surfs competitively, gives all the students surfing lessons including Alina and Felix who stayed with them in the past two weeks.

‘Felix got up on his first try. We have so much fun with them, we take them places and help them with their homework at night. I love getting to know teenagers and students from another country and their viewpoints on life. They become kind of like our kids,’ Gary’s wife Linda Stellern said.

The Stellern’s were able to go to Germany last summer for a celebration in Ludwigshafen, Pasadena’s sister city. They stayed with the grandparents of one of the students who had stayed with them several years ago.

Jordan Lopez, a second year PCC student who just returned from Germany on July 4, thinks everybody should seek out a program to live with a family from another country. He worked and lived in Germany for six weeks while taking classes and living with a host family.

“I am glad I had the experience to learn what it is like to live as a German. To wake up with the family and be a part of their routine. You wake up in some else’s life for six weeks; it is something that is unbelievable,” Lopez said.

When he was in Germany his family took him to see the Hockenheimring, a racetrack for normal cars. He had never seen anything like it and loved that he could see something he was passionate about. Lopez felt he learned so much about the culture and that his German really excelled.

“The experience was great, the work was great, but it was the people you meet that really make the experience,” Lopez said.

Veronica Glavez, second year PCC student, also loved her experience in Germany, especially the history, castles, and the food.

“The food was great. I learned how to make frigadellas and how to make saurkraut. One of my favorite meals was the potato and noodle soup. One of my families gave me a German cookbook,” said

Michelle Tanner who is a senior at UC Berkeley had just returned from Finland the day before, on Saturday July 27. Her first experience abroad opened her eyes to the wonders of the world and now she hopes to study abroad during her last year of college.

“They made sure I was able to visit all the great places, eat all of the great food and have a very traditional Finish experience with a Finish family. It is something that you do not get when you are a tourist because when you are visiting you are only getting the surface level experience,” Tanner said.

Volunteering with the Sister Cities Committee since 1981, Michael Warner currently serves as the Chair of the German subcommittee. He takes care of placing the students in homes and registering them for classes at PCC. He also helps with the Pasadena students who go abroad.

“I feel that they get something out of it, it is an experience for them that I did not have when I was a kid, my German experience was compliments of the military, but I was still grateful for it,” Warner said.

Warner referenced the visit of the Vice Premier of China last year to Washington D.C. One thing the Vice Premier wanted to do was to visit his host family in Ohio that he had stayed with when he an exchange student.

“My point on that is that because he had that experience and because he is eventually most likely going to be a high political figure in China, that gives him a much different perspective than if he did not have that experience,” Warner said. “He would not know that face to face we are the same type of people. The fact that we wanted to see his host family shows that it meant something to him.”

The idea for the Sister Cities came from Dwight Eisenhower who wanted to improve relations with Germany and Japan after WWII. He thought that if people could make friends with people across the seas it would be harder to want to go to war because of that personal tie.

Even today those ties are important because the people who come to Pasadena may become strong leaders and have a better view of the U.S. as they make decisions.

“Regardless of who these kids are, they will now have a different perspective on their future,” Warner said.

The opportunity to visit one of the sister cities is available to all high school and college students age 17-24 who are residents of Pasadena or attend school in Pasadena.

Xicheng District Sister Cities Conference – Committed to Sustainability Beijing

On June 21, 2010, Mayor Bogaard kicked off a planning and economic development seminar in Xicheng District, Beijing, a Sister City since October, 1999, with the following report on the City’s “Green City Action Plan”. Others from the City made panel presentations on volunteerism, planning and development programs, public information practices, and the Sister Cities program. The visit was organized by the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee for interested persons who themselves paid the travel expenses.

PASADENA: A CITY COMMITTED TO SUSTAINABILITY

To our hosts here in Xicheng District and to all who are here: I bring greetings from the City of Pasadena.

I would like to ask all of the members of the Pasadena delegation to stand and to join with me in extending cordial greetings to our friends in Xicheng District.

It is an honor to provide information about the City of Pasadena and its “Green City Action Plan”. This plan, adopted in 2006, is built upon the framework of the 2005 United Nations Urban Environmental Accords—and is intended to guide the City’s procedures, practices and operations in the direction of sustainability.

The City of Pasadena

Pasadena is located in southern California, on the west coast of the United States of America, and it was incorporated as a city in 1886, not long after the founding of the City of Los Angeles. By comparison, the City of San Francisco was founded in 1856, soon after the famous discovery of gold in northern California. It is fair to say that throughout its history, California has been viewed as a land of golden opportunity, and Pasadena has benefited from that reputation and from strong leaders at the beginning of its history.

For example, soon after the City’s incorporation, a school was established for teaching engineering and that school grew and developed into what is now the world famous California Institute of Technology. In the 1920s, the City Hall was completed as well as the Public Library and the Civic Auditorium. These buildings are all in excellent condition today and are used for the same important purposes for which they were first constructed nearly 100 years ago.

Pasadena’s population is about 145,000 people. Based on the population count in 2000, Pasadena has approximately 35% persons of Hispanic and Latino origin; 12% persons of African origin; 10% persons of Asian background; and the balance are Caucasians. The latter group has its history and heritage primarily in Europe, but in other parts of the world as well. For example, Pasadena has a population of Armenian Americans of about 10,000 persons, and has a small but closely knit community of Muslims, who contribute significantly to the community.

The growth of Pasadena’s population has been moderate, moving from about 130,000 in 1980 to about 145,000 persons at present.

Pasadena enjoys a strong local economy, elegant neighborhoods of single-family homes and many trees, many historic landmarks, such as the Rose Bowl, the Colorado Street Bridge and the famous Civic Center, and schools, colleges, museums and art galleries, as well as theaters and symphonies and orchestras. The City is known as a center for business, employment, professional services of all kinds, arts and culture, and education. It serves a region surrounding the City with total population of approximately 800,000 people. Employment is available in Pasadena to approximately 110,000 persons.

Pasadena’s budget is in excess of $700 million per year, including the operations of an electric utility, a water utility and a convention center that draws a large number of meetings, conventions and visitors to the City. The principal sources of revenue, in addition to charges for electricity and water and fees for City services, are sales taxes, real property taxes, and taxes imposed on the use of utilities such as gas, telephones, water, and electricity.

I took office as Mayor in 1999 following a spirited election in which there were 10 candidates. My duties include conducting public weekly meetings of the City Council. During these meetings, I deliberate with seven elected Councilmembers as we address the many challenging issues facing Pasadena. We also hear testimony from concerned citizens. Our job is to consider legislative options to promote the public good and to pass laws and regulations that help our community to grow and thrive.

A Commitment for Sustainability

All of us are aware of the environmental challenges posed by cities: speaking globally, cities and the urban regions surrounding them occupy only about 3% of the earth’s surface, but their residents consume more than 75% of the world’s natural resources. In the United States, over-reliance on the automobile has contributed to urban sprawl, pollution and traffic congestion.

The issues to be addressed in the movement to sustainability include sufficient energy to meet the needs of a growing and active world; obtaining energy from domestic sources within the United States to reduce reliance on foreign countries; reducing the so-called “carbon footprint” which contributes to climate change; and, of course, environmental stewardship so that the natural resources of the world continue to be available to serve succeeding generations.

In the overall, we are talking about quality of life for the current population and for future generations as well. The challenge is to expand transportation options, to improve air quality and to make the use of land more efficient.

The problem of sustainability is at the same time local and global. In 2006, Pasadena decided to make a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, recognizing that it is necessary to start this effort on a local level even though the problem can be solved only if communities and countries around the world make similar commitments.

When Pasadena took this action, it became the 200th city in the United States to adopt a “Green City Action Plan”; at this point in time, the total number of American cities involved is over 1000.

California Global Warming Law

The Pasadena plan was adopted in the same year that California became the first state in our country to adopt legislation designed to reduce global warming and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

This state legislation represents the most far-reaching regulatory initiative ever attempted in California history. Under the law, the state’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere, must drop 15% by the year 2020 and much more than that over the years. The greenhouse emissions in 2020 would be equal, and not exceed, greenhouse gas emissions that existed in the year 1990.

New California regulations require using solar, wind and other renewable power; cutting carbon intensity of gasoline; promoting electric cars; encouraging urban development within existing centers instead of expanding urban living into open space and mountains; and imposing energy saving measures in home building, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.

The Green City Action Plan

Turning to our Green City Action Plan, the purpose of the plan is to create Pasadena as a “sustainable city”. Sustainable cities are designed to preserve natural resources and enhance the quality of life by, among other things, encouraging transit, cycling and walking. In broad terms, this is accomplished through a mix of land uses, compact building design, walkable neighborhoods, preserving and expanding open space and parks, and providing a range of transportation and housing choices.

Our Plan covers seven areas of City activities and imposes requirements for reduced use of natural resources, increased energy efficiency, and the development of renewable energy sources. The areas covered by the Plan are: waste reduction and recycling; protecting and increasing trees; conserving water; establishing public transportation such as buses and trains as an alternative to using automobiles; using “green” materials in building construction and new designs for greater efficiency; eliminating toxics; and improving air quality.

The plan is intended to be implemented over 10 years, with progress being verified each year. Copies of the report about Pasadena’s work under this plan for 2010 are available to those who are interested, and the information is also available on the internet at http://cityofpasadena.net/GreenCity/.

The Current Situation

A few weeks ago, I attended a celebration of Earth Day in Pasadena, which marked the 40th year of rallies, meetings and presentations to promote sustainability. On the first Earth Day, millions of environmental activists gathered on college campuses and in major cities holding rallies, that helped galvanize actions of an historic scale—including passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

At that time, 1970, the challenge of environmental pollution was obvious, because one could see it, smell it and taste it. The air and many rivers were polluted and waste from a style of active living was all too evident. Today, the issues are more subtle and more difficult to address, because they pertain to trends that are global in scale. They are things like climate change and ocean acidification.

The political climate has changed as well, with a battered economy making it harder to build support for policies that could raise prices, cost jobs or slow economic growth. These issues—global warming, ocean pollution, carbon-based energy systems—are more obtuse and remote.

It is interesting that the political discussion today about global warming, recognizing the difficult economic climate, is not based on environmental protection and public health, but on job creation and national security. But regardless of how the issues are publicly debated, I believe the world now understands that global warming is a serious threat to our quality of life and the well being of future generations, and am confident that efforts will continue to address the challenge of sustainability from this point on in history.

Conclusion

In closing, I thank you for this opportunity. Pasadena is committed to being a sustainable city, and I know that there is much to learn about how to accomplish this goal. I hope there will be future opportunities for us in Pasadena to confer with our friends in Xicheng District on the question of sustainability and many other issues facing our community.

Pasadena’s Sister Cities Program and the Children of Vanadzor

BY CATHERINE YESAYAN

Catherine Yesayan

Catherine Yesayan

What better way than to spend the first Sunday of spring, outdoors under the Southern California sun, and raising funds for a good cause! Come join us and participate in a walk-a-thon at Pasadena High School benefiting Vanadzor schools in Armenia.

Pasadena Sister Cities Committee (PSCC), in conjunction with the Christian Club at Pasadena High School, will hold their third walk-a-thon Sunday, March 25, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., at the track and field of Pasadena High School, 2925 East Sierra Madre Boulevard, Pasadena.

Around five years ago a friend introduced me to the Pasadena Sister Cities program and since then I’ve proudly been a part of this benevolent organization which embodies the American spirit of giving and reaching out.

Pasadena was one of the first cities in the nation to adopt a Sister Cities program. President Dwight Eisenhower established the concept in 1956. The idea was to achieve international peace through people-to-people interactions. Presently, 1,060 U.S. cities participate in the Sister Cities program and they have ties to over 1,900 cities in 120 nations.

Pasadena has five sister cities around the world. Vanadzor (vah-naht-zor), previously known as Kirovakan, became the fourth in 1991, three years after the 1988 earthquake which destroyed 70% of the city’s buildings. With a population of 175,000, Vanadzor is the third largest city in Armenia. It is located in Lory, the northwestern region of the Republic of Armenia, and sits about 80 miles north of the capital city of Yerevan.

Vanadzor is widely known for its wonderful “Lory” mineral water, clean running springs, green hills, and snow-capped mountains visible in all directions. The city is now in the process of rebirth and change. Owing to its beauty and rich culture, Vanadzor has many descriptive names: the Beauty of Lory, Sanatorium City, City of Music, and Masters City.

Helen Kouyoumdjian, chair for the Pasadena/Vanadzor subcommittee, said, “the ‘Walk for the Children of Vanadzor’ is organized to benefit year-round kindergartners. 100% of the net proceeds from the Walkathon will be used to provide welfare assistance to the families, as well as supplementing educational supplies such as knapsacks, medicine, winter clothes, shoes, bedding and urgent school repair services.”

During the 20 years of partnership with Vanadzor, Pasdena Sister Cities has provided significant assistance to Vanadzor schools, sometimes supplementing a teacher’s salary and other times paying for necessary school repairs.

Marcia Montez, PSCC President, said, “It is imperative to assist families and the children of Vanadzor, because today Armenia is fighting a harsh economy and there is over 50% unemployment in the country. She added, “In October of 2011, PSCC members traveled to Vanadzor to celebrate our 20-year partnership between the two cities. The week-long trip was an opportunity to evaluate the progress and the needs in Vanadzor kindergartens. Some of the PSCC members participated in construction and repairs that were absolutely necessary in poorly maintained kindergartens.”

The walk-a-thon has been endorsed by elected officials, notably by Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and City Council members, and Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Mike Antonovich. It is also endorsed by several Pasadena Public Unified School District Board members, and prominent members of the Pasadena business community. It promises to be a local tradition each school year.

The PHS location makes this a very safe environment for young children to participate with their parents and/or grandparents. We hope many will join us in this humanitarian endeavor. Walkers’ registration/donation is $5.00. You may also send your tax deductible contributions in any amount, (payable: Walk for Children/Vanadzor and mail to Vanadzor Walkathon 1536 E. Washington Blvd Pasadena, CA, 91104. For more information, please contact: Marguerite Hougasian, (626) 351-8137; Helen Kouyoumdjian (626) 797-1526; or Forrest Turpen, (626) 318-6835.

Catherine Yesayan is a contributor to Asbarez. You may reach her at cyesayan@gmail.com or read her stories on her blog:beyondthebluedomes.blogspot.com

China and Me: Fifty Years of Learning and Friendship

Over the years, John E. Wills, Jr. has written quite extensively on China’s history and foreign policy. He will be joining us at Vroman’s to speak on the subject of China as part of the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee’s special event series “Learning From China.”

Mr. Wills will be presenting the following titles at the event: Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History; The World from 1450 to 1700, Past and Present in China’s Foreign Policy: From “Tribute System” to “Peaceful Rise”, and China and Maritime Europe, 1500-1800: Trade, Settlement, Diplomacy, and Missions.

Event date:

Vroman’s
Friday, September 16, 2011 – 7:00pm
Event address:
695 E. Colorado Blvd
91101 Pasadena

Xicheng District Sister Cities Conference – Committed to Sustainability Beijing

On June 21, 2010, Mayor Bogaard kicked off a planning and economic development seminar in Xicheng District, Beijing, a Sister City since October, 1999, with the following report on the City’s “Green City Action Plan”. Others from the City made panel presentations on volunteerism, planning and development programs, public information practices, and the Sister Cities program. The visit was organized by the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee for interested persons who themselves paid the travel expenses.

PASADENA: A CITY COMMITTED TO SUSTAINABILITY

To our hosts here in Xicheng District and to all who are here: I bring greetings from the City of Pasadena.

I would like to ask all of the members of the Pasadena delegation to stand and to join with me in extending cordial greetings to our friends in Xicheng District.

It is an honor to provide information about the City of Pasadena and its “Green City Action Plan”. This plan, adopted in 2006, is built upon the framework of the 2005 United Nations Urban Environmental Accords—and is intended to guide the City’s procedures, practices and operations in the direction of sustainability.

The City of Pasadena

Pasadena is located in southern California, on the west coast of the United States of America, and it was incorporated as a city in 1886, not long after the founding of the City of Los Angeles. By comparison, the City of San Francisco was founded in 1856, soon after the famous discovery of gold in northern California. It is fair to say that throughout its history, California has been viewed as a land of golden opportunity, and Pasadena has benefited from that reputation and from strong leaders at the beginning of its history.

For example, soon after the City’s incorporation, a school was established for teaching engineering and that school grew and developed into what is now the world famous California Institute of Technology. In the 1920s, the City Hall was completed as well as the Public Library and the Civic Auditorium. These buildings are all in excellent condition today and are used for the same important purposes for which they were first constructed nearly 100 years ago.

Pasadena’s population is about 145,000 people. Based on the population count in 2000, Pasadena has approximately 35% persons of Hispanic and Latino origin; 12% persons of African origin; 10% persons of Asian background; and the balance are Caucasians. The latter group has its history and heritage primarily in Europe, but in other parts of the world as well. For example, Pasadena has a population of Armenian Americans of about 10,000 persons, and has a small but closely knit community of Muslims, who contribute significantly to the community.

The growth of Pasadena’s population has been moderate, moving from about 130,000 in 1980 to about 145,000 persons at present.

Pasadena enjoys a strong local economy, elegant neighborhoods of single-family homes and many trees, many historic landmarks, such as the Rose Bowl, the Colorado Street Bridge and the famous Civic Center, and schools, colleges, museums and art galleries, as well as theaters and symphonies and orchestras. The City is known as a center for business, employment, professional services of all kinds, arts and culture, and education. It serves a region surrounding the City with total population of approximately 800,000 people. Employment is available in Pasadena to approximately 110,000 persons.

Pasadena’s budget is in excess of $700 million per year, including the operations of an electric utility, a water utility and a convention center that draws a large number of meetings, conventions and visitors to the City. The principal sources of revenue, in addition to charges for electricity and water and fees for City services, are sales taxes, real property taxes, and taxes imposed on the use of utilities such as gas, telephones, water, and electricity.

I took office as Mayor in 1999 following a spirited election in which there were 10 candidates. My duties include conducting public weekly meetings of the City Council. During these meetings, I deliberate with seven elected Councilmembers as we address the many challenging issues facing Pasadena. We also hear testimony from concerned citizens. Our job is to consider legislative options to promote the public good and to pass laws and regulations that help our community to grow and thrive.

A Commitment for Sustainability

All of us are aware of the environmental challenges posed by cities: speaking globally, cities and the urban regions surrounding them occupy only about 3% of the earth’s surface, but their residents consume more than 75% of the world’s natural resources. In the United States, over-reliance on the automobile has contributed to urban sprawl, pollution and traffic congestion.

The issues to be addressed in the movement to sustainability include sufficient energy to meet the needs of a growing and active world; obtaining energy from domestic sources within the United States to reduce reliance on foreign countries; reducing the so-called “carbon footprint” which contributes to climate change; and, of course, environmental stewardship so that the natural resources of the world continue to be available to serve succeeding generations.

In the overall, we are talking about quality of life for the current population and for future generations as well. The challenge is to expand transportation options, to improve air quality and to make the use of land more efficient.

The problem of sustainability is at the same time local and global. In 2006, Pasadena decided to make a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, recognizing that it is necessary to start this effort on a local level even though the problem can be solved only if communities and countries around the world make similar commitments.

When Pasadena took this action, it became the 200th city in the United States to adopt a “Green City Action Plan”; at this point in time, the total number of American cities involved is over 1000.

California Global Warming Law

The Pasadena plan was adopted in the same year that California became the first state in our country to adopt legislation designed to reduce global warming and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

This state legislation represents the most far-reaching regulatory initiative ever attempted in California history. Under the law, the state’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere, must drop 15% by the year 2020 and much more than that over the years. The greenhouse emissions in 2020 would be equal, and not exceed, greenhouse gas emissions that existed in the year 1990.

New California regulations require using solar, wind and other renewable power; cutting carbon intensity of gasoline; promoting electric cars; encouraging urban development within existing centers instead of expanding urban living into open space and mountains; and imposing energy saving measures in home building, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.
The Green City Action Plan

Turning to our Green City Action Plan, the purpose of the plan is to create Pasadena as a “sustainable city”. Sustainable cities are designed to preserve natural resources and enhance the quality of life by, among other things, encouraging transit, cycling and walking. In broad terms, this is accomplished through a mix of land uses, compact building design, walkable neighborhoods, preserving and expanding open space and parks, and providing a range of transportation and housing choices.

Our Plan covers seven areas of City activities and imposes requirements for reduced use of natural resources, increased energy efficiency, and the development of renewable energy sources. The areas covered by the Plan are: waste reduction and recycling; protecting and increasing trees; conserving water; establishing public transportation such as buses and trains as an alternative to using automobiles; using “green” materials in building construction and new designs for greater efficiency; eliminating toxics; and improving air quality.

The plan is intended to be implemented over 10 years, with progress being verified each year. Copies of the report about Pasadena’s work under this plan for 2010 are available to those who are interested, and the information is also available on the internet at http://cityofpasadena.net/GreenCity/.

The Current Situation

A few weeks ago, I attended a celebration of Earth Day in Pasadena, which marked the 40th year of rallies, meetings and presentations to promote sustainability. On the first Earth Day, millions of environmental activists gathered on college campuses and in major cities holding rallies, that helped galvanize actions of an historic scale—including passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

At that time, 1970, the challenge of environmental pollution was obvious, because one could see it, smell it and taste it. The air and many rivers were polluted and waste from a style of active living was all too evident. Today, the issues are more subtle and more difficult to address, because they pertain to trends that are global in scale. They are things like climate change and ocean acidification.

The political climate has changed as well, with a battered economy making it harder to build support for policies that could raise prices, cost jobs or slow economic growth. These issues—global warming, ocean pollution, carbon-based energy systems—are more obtuse and remote.

It is interesting that the political discussion today about global warming, recognizing the difficult economic climate, is not based on environmental protection and public health, but on job creation and national security. But regardless of how the issues are publicly debated, I believe the world now understands that global warming is a serious threat to our quality of life and the well being of future generations, and am confident that efforts will continue to address the challenge of sustainability from this point on in history.

Conclusion

In closing, I thank you for this opportunity. Pasadena is committed to being a sustainable city, and I know that there is much to learn about how to accomplish this goal. I hope there will be future opportunities for us in Pasadena to confer with our friends in Xicheng District on the question of sustainability and many other issues facing our community.

Sister Cities Ten Year Celebration Coincides with Mayor Bogaard’s Tenure

April 9th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

chinesemusic2On Sunday afternoon Mayor Bogaard and Zhang Jiandong, Governor of Xicheng district in Beijing, signed their reaffirmation as sister cities on the 10th anniversary of the joint partnership.
The anniversary was marked with the ceremony, signing and gift exchange plus music and lunch all held at the Huntington Library. Though not everyone is pleased with the sister cities arrangement. We received this letter from The Visual Arts Guild on Sunday:

To All Members of Pasadena’s Sister-City Committee:
When the City of Pasadena agreed to join the Sister Cities program, it was to form partnerships that allow our communities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems through cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional, and technical exchanges and projects.
One of the City of Pasadena’s Sister Cities partnership is with Xicheng District of Beijing. It is time for the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee to act as a good sister to Xicheng District and engage in a dialogue of real communications and ask Governor Zhang Yu of Xicheng District of Beijing to help promote human rights in China for his own people. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the women, men and families in China who beg for our assistance.
California has a rich history in defending basic human rights. The grass roots efforts that the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee may be able to undertake can help restore the sense of dignity for many common people in China who seek the freedoms that we often take for granted.
Pasadena’s Sister Cities Committee can send a message to all cities throughout the United States that have sister-city relationships with China’s cities : the people-to-people relations will not exclude our compassion for those who suffer injustice. This is a wonderful opportunity that we urge you to accept.
We are appealing to the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee members to send a message to Beijing via Mr. Zhang Yu, Governor of Xicheng District of Beijing, to ask for the release of Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiabo was detained since December 10, 2008 on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Mr. Liu is one of the original signer of Charter 08, a document which re-iterated many of the rights set forth by the UN Declaration as well as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of China. In fact, Article 35 of the PRC Constitution guarantees the people in China the right of freedom of speech.
We are appealing to the Pasadena Sister City Committee members to send a message to Beijing via Mr. Zhang Yu, Governor of Xicheng District of Beijing to ask for the release of other prisoners of conscience: Huang Qi (human rights activist), Sun Lin (journalist), Qi Chonghuai (journalist), Hu Jia (environmentalist and AIDS activist), Yang Chunlin (land rights activist for peasants), Chen Guangcheng (blind activist against forced abortion and forced sterilization for women) and Shi Tao (journalist).
We must take our responsibilities seriously. We must let the officials from Beijing know that common people in the United States do care about the people in China. With the world rapidly changing, the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee would be on the right side of history by taking this one small but bold step of expressing concern for those in China whose are merely exercising their right to freedom of speech.
Respectfully,
Ann Lau, Visual Artists Guild
Ann Noonan, Visual Artists Guild

Photo by Terry Miller

Pasadena Sister Cities Hold Student Exchange Night

by Polly Nader in News PCC Courier

Pasadena Sister Cities will hold a student Exchange Night at 7 p.m. tonight at the Pasadena City Hall, City Council Chambers.During Student Exchange Night there will be a number of former exchange students speeches.

“At the meeting will be those that went this past summer and they’ll give a report about their experience and the families they stayed with,” said Fred Alcantar, president of the PSC committee.

“Two students reporting on Japan, one reporting on Finland, and one student from Polytechnic High as part of a group of 12 students, will report as part of a global studies program and part of Sister Cities International,” said Alan Lamson, Student Coordinator of PSC.

A statement from a student who traveled to Germany will also be read.

PSC exchange students can select cities across the globe such as Ludwigshafen, Germany, Mishima, Japan, J„rvenp„„, Finland, Xicheng District, Beijing, China and Vanadzor, Armenia.

Applications for the 2009 program can be found at www.passcc.org for interested students.

The deadline to turn applications in is Nov. 28.

“We’re already got several inquiries from PCC students from the Japanese classes that are interested in going to Mishima,” Lamson.

PCC hosts exchange students from Finland, Germany and Japan. The students from Finland and Germany stay for six weeks and take summer courses at PCC. The Japanese students stay for four weeks and take English courses and attend activities at the Asian Pacific Museum. “So it works out really well,” said Alcantar.

Students will have to pay for their travel and personal expenses. Housing and generally breakfast and other meals are provided for each exchange student by a volunteer family. Each student will stay with different families for two weeks during their stay. Transportation and activities are arranged.

“The families who house kids are volunteering and it’s a sense of personal satisfaction for opening your house. We meet with them do a background check and check out their homes. We also tell them what we expect of them and what they should expect,” said Alcantar.

The committee pays for school expenses, including books. Students also receive $50 a week.

According to their website: “Sister Cities International is a non-profit, national organization driven by grassroots citizen volunteers and city officials. Exchange programs provide each country with enormous social and economic benefits and promote greater cross-cultural understanding worldwide.

A Letter From a Long-Lost Sister City

A Letter From a Long-Lost Sister City : Pasadena Woman Is Reconnected With a Japanese Friend From 37 Years Ago

October 18, 1997 | BOB POOL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Not that Rosa Johnson needed a reminder. But there it was, stuffed into her Altadena mailbox. Proof positive that it really is a small world after all.

Nearly four decades after Johnson traveled to Japan to help introduce Pasadena as the sister city to the town of Mishima, there was a letter from the family she stayed with on that trip.

“I have very fond memories of 37 years ago,” wrote 52-year-old Terumoto Watanabe of Mishima.

Johnson had all but given up hope of ever hearing from the Watanabes again. When she returned home, her letters to the family went unanswered.

Johnson is the last original member of Pasadena’s 40-year-old Mishima sister city committee. During that time she has become her community’s most active surrogate mother, welcoming more than 300 foreign exchange students.

Her journey began in 1960 when she was a one-woman delegation, traveling to Mishima, 120 miles southwest of Tokyo, to initiate the cultural exchange program.

Her gift from Pasadena to Mishima was a film of the 1960 Tournament of Roses parade. She carried a few personal mementos for her host family.

But soon after Johnson’s visit, the Watanabe family moved. Johnson’s letters to them were not forwarded.

Two months ago, when the Pasadena committee held a reception at Caltech for visiting Mishima residents, Johnson recounted her dismay at losing contact with the family. A small group from Mishima had come to help plan a 40th-anniversary commemoration of the sister city relationship.

“I told them that the only regret I had from my trip was that I’d lost my Mishima family and I was sad over what might have happened to them,” she said.

Back in Mishima, a Japanese newspaper printed a story about the Pasadena meeting and mentioned Johnson’s comment. A photograph of Johnson illustrated the story.

“I was very surprised when I saw your picture in the local newspaper,” Terumoto Watanabe said in his letter, handwritten in English.

Watanabe was 15 when Johnson stayed with his family. Today he is a 52-year-old government architectural technician who is married, has two adult children and commutes to work on a high-speed train. His parents are dead.

“The article said you were searching for me,” said Watanabe, who tucked several snapshots of his family in the envelope. “I hope to be able to meet you again.”

Johnson, who steadfastly guards her age, will not be part of a Pasadena delegation that is leaving for Mishima on Thursday to mark the two cities’ 40-year association. Pasadena now has four sister cities: Ludwigshafen, Germany; Jarvenpaa, Finland; Vanatzor, Armenia; and Mishima, according to June Takenuchi, who has organized the Mishima trip.

Johnson can’t go because she is tending to her ailing husband of 64 years, Kim Johnson, 88.

She is also watching over an 18-year-old Turkish student who is living with the couple as part of a yearlong student exchange program. Nearly 350 foreign youths have stayed with the couple during the past four decades.

“They all call me ‘Mama Rosa,’ ” Johnson said as she sat in her family room–whose walls are covered with framed photographs of teenagers who have stayed at her Rubio Street home.

“They are always calling or writing. Last Saturday somebody came to the door and said, ‘I’m your Finnish girl.’ I hadn’t seen her in 10 years. Three weeks ago a boy from Italy came by–I hadn’t seen him for 18 years. Two months ago a girl from Peru brought her husband over for lunch. Last year a girl from Switzerland I hadn’t seen for 26 years came and stayed a week.”

Johnson writes more than a dozen letters a week to former house guests. Her Christmas card list numbers in the hundreds. Sometimes, she doesn’t get the last of them in the mail until March, according to her daughter, Rose Marie Wallach of Newport Beach.

“I’ve had more than one who came to be almost like one of my own children,” Johnson said of her nonstop series of guests.

Which is why Johnson says that the Mishima sister city effort is still needed, even after 40 years.

“We still do not have a complete understanding of our foreign friends. We still have a lot of learning to do,” Johnson said.

“I’ve got six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. I don’t want them to see any more wars.”

Los Angeles Times

Pasadena : City to Pay for Soviet Guests

February 10, 1991

The Board of Directors has agreed to pay $1,500 in costs for a visit from a five-member delegation from Kirovakan, a city in Soviet Armenia recently approved by Sister City International in Moscow to become one of Pasadena’s sister cities.

Samuel Laidig, chairman of the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee, said the Soviets operate under a reciprocal agreement that would make Pasadena responsible for the delegation’s travel costs from Washington or New York to Pasadena and for expenses in Pasadena. Laidig estimated those costs would amount to $300 per person.

Los Angeles Times

Pasadena : Armenia Sister City Studied

December 21, 1989

A city formerly closed to foreigners in Soviet Armenia could become the city’s fourth Sister City under a recommendation from the Board of Directors.

Byurakan, Armenia, a town of 25,000 people that was previously not even listed on maps, was proposed Tuesday by the board. The town is in the Caucasus Mountains and is well known as a scientific center and for its observatory, said Charles Papas, a professor of electrical engineering at Caltech.

The Armenian city would join the ranks of Ludwigshafen in West Germany, Mishima in Japan and Jarvenpaa in Finland, if the city’s Sister City Committee approves the choice. Director Bill Paparian suggested that the decision be made by May.

But Anthony Anderson, head of the city’s Sister City Committee, said approval must also be received from Soviet officials in Moscow, who have approved 36 Soviet cities previously.

Committee members also said that the Armenian city may not be an appropriate choice for the program, because of the possible lack of cultural and educational institutions through which visitors are exchanged. But Mayor William Thomson suggested that the relationship with Byurakan might be different–more technical and practical–than previous Sister City exchanges.

Los Angeles Times