The menu was the same as it had been at events past – half of a barbecue chicken, Ray and Gerri Gamma’s “famous” Portuguese-style beans, Elise DeYoung’s “delicious garlic bread,” salad, dessert and beverages – but the searing sun didn’t keep Santa Clarans away from the Elks Lodge on Aug. 16.
For 34 years, the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association has held its annual Chicken BBQ, as summer winds down for students and the organization gears up for its full roster of yearly events.
As with years past, there was an opportunity drawing and raffle, but this year, there was one special silent auction item. SCSCA President Kathy Watanabe and her husband, Karl, donated two tickets to a San Francisco 49ers game. The tickets, which were won by DeYoung and her husband Mike for $320, gave the pair the chance to sit in the Watanabe’s club-level seats during one game this upcoming season.
Even though some BBQ ticket buyers – at only $13 it was a steal – decided against braving the heat, those who attended were treated to recognition from the State of California, presented by Assemblymember Kansen Chu, and Sister Cities participants recounting their experiences visiting Japan last year.
“The trip to Japan was really nice,” said Wilcox High School incoming senior Atlanta Rydzik. “Ten days was definitely too short to stay in Izumo. It’s a very beautiful place; it’s very different from Tokyo. It’s very traditional. There’s definitely a lot of green and old, traditional buildings there. The opportunity to be able to go to Japan and to be able to practice my Japanese was very much a once in a lifetime opportunity and it inspired me want to go to college and major in Japanese – and study abroad.”
One of SCSCA’s goals for 2016 is to foster better relationships with the local high schools and encourage more students to take part in the program, something Watanabe has already taken upon herself to start doing when she recently spoke with Santa Clara High School Principal Greg Shelby about the program.
In addition, the BBQ was also another opportunity to spread the word about Santa Clara’s newest sister city, Limerick, Ireleand, and share the upcoming plans for next year, which include hosting 14 boys. But, to make that happen, SCSCA has plenty of work to do.
“We need families,” said SCSCA Vice President of Limerick Ruth Lemmon. “We need teenagers. We need freshman, sophomores and juniors specifically because they’re going to be arriving on Oct. 31, 2016. We need families who are going to be willing to open up their home to two boys. They [Limerick sister city officials] want them doubled up. I’m also going to be needing parents with vans to help drive them a couple of places. So parents and students: we need the students to get involved with things like this – working behind the scenes.”
Visit www.santaclarasistercities.org/ to learn more about SCSCA and to find out the various ways to participate in the organization.