As twin towers of chocolate overflowed into a pool of ooey, gooey goodness, guests attending the Sister Cities Fourth Annual Tea Social at the Santa Clara Senior Center on Jan. 11 dipped dried apricots, pineapple, cream puffs, and Rice Krispy treat bites into the fondue fountain. They dined on lemon scones and a variety of bite-sized sandwiches like the Sweet Sensation – a pineapple and carrot cream cheese spread treat – and Cherry Chicken Salad Puffs – a roasted chicken, cranberry, celery, apple and cherry mixture in a puffed pastry. They also sipped on Holiday Spiced Tea (black tea infused with cinnamon and orange), listened to live harp music, participated in a raffle, and supported a good cause.
Since Santa Clara first teamed up with Coimbra Portugal in 1972 and Izumo, Japan in 1986, the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association has fundraised in order to send students to each of the sister cities and hosted students from each country. Students involved in the program gain a deep understanding of other cultures and valuable leadership skills that they carry with them through college and into their careers. Events like the Annual Tea Social are a vital part of ensuring that the students involved in the organization have the opportunity to take part in the trip of a lifetime.
New president Kathy Watanabe took the microphone to explain how special the experience is for the high schoolers who visit from sister cities. The students who make the trip learn about Santa Clara by visiting the fire and police departments and City Hall, and partake in fun excursions like visiting California’s Great America. It’s rewarding for everyone involved.
“When [the students] leave, I have to tell you, everybody is crying because in that short period of time you really get close to these kids and you become attached to them,” said Watanabe. “Many of us have been able to stay in touch with the kids that we’ve been able to host over the last couple of years. It really is a wonderful opportunity…It’s a wonderful organization…Your presence is what is making [this event] a success so thank you very much.”
Brenda Manley of Sweet Serendipity Catering created the sandwiches, Tedra Nikoli made the scones, Mariani’s Inn and Restaurant lent the linens, Karen Thielen provided the music, and volunteers and students helped set up and serve at the event. Visit www.santaclarasistercities.org to learn more about the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association.