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Sister Cities 2016 BBQ Sizzles Despite the Rain

Rain didn’t cancel the annual Santa Clara Sister Cities Association (SCSCA) Barbecue October 16. It did, however, change the venue from outside to inside at the Elks Lodge, 1680 Martin Ave, where about 100 SCSCA members and supporters lunched on barbecued chicken, baked beans, salad, and garlic bread.

Elise De Young, bread maker for the last 12 years, revealed her recipe to serve 100: twenty loaves of French bread slathered with a spread made of 10 pounds of butter, 65 garlic cloves, a little olive oil, generous dashes of oregano and parsley, and four to five cups of white wine, preferably Sauvignon Blanc.

Coordinated by volunteer Tedra Nikolai, the barbecue and raffle is one of several annual SCSCA activities to raise money to send high school students on exchange trips to Santa Clara’s sister cities: Coimbre, Portugal; Izumo, Japan; and, eventually, to Limerick, Ireland, the newest sister city.


“Sister Cities not only bonds and connects residents and students within our community but also across the world. The student exchanges between our Sister Cities are life changing experiences where these students get to see and feel the real culture of other nations,” wrote SCSCA President Raj Chahal in an email.

Students Tim Butler, Ria Grewal, Gaby Guillen and Kayleigh Watanabe, chaperoned by Karl Watanabe, received partial scholarships to visit Izumo for eight days last June.

“Going to Japan, I had a valuable cultural experience. It changed my perspective on different cultures,” said Grewal. “It makes you respect everything.”

“I thought I knew a lot, but there was a lot I didn’t know,” said Butler, who is one quarter Japanese but had never before traveled to Japan.

Patricia Hernandez, speaking at the barbecue on behalf of her daughter, Gaby Guillen, who was away at college, thanked the SCSCA for sponsoring Guillen.

“The opportunity was a dream come true for my daughter,” said Hernandez. “Being a single parent, I wouldn’t have been able to give her that opportunity if it were just me.”

Chaperone Karl Watanabe visited with the mayor and the principal of one of the schools while the students attended high school classes.

“It raised my awareness of how real people live outside the big cities such as Tokyo,” said Watanabe, who had previously traveled to Japan on business. “I can relate better to Japan than before. It makes you more worldly.”

“Our youth commission prepares these youths to be global citizens of the world. President Eisenhower’s goal of people-to-people diplomacy for world peace is being fulfilled with all these programs,” wrote Chahal.

Sister Cities International was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 at a White House conference establishing the People-to-People Program. Its goal is to foster relationships between cities based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges.

Sister Cities was established in Santa Clara in 1972 at the recommendation of the Cultural Commission to the City Council. Coimbra was the first sister city, followed by Izumo 30 years ago, in 1986.

“Being Portuguese, I got involved from the beginning,” said board member John Figueira, who served as president from 1982 to 2001. “It makes me satisfied when I know the help we’re doing for people, for our kids.”

The number of exchange students (two to four to Japan and eight to fourteen to Portugal) is limited by the amount of scholarship money raised and by the number of homes available to house the students. Students who live or attend high school in Santa Clara can visit the SCSCA website ( for information about the April 2017 ten-day trip to Coimbre and about becoming involved with the SCSCA Youth Commission.


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