Sister Cities International serves as the national membership organization for sister city programs in nearly 500 communities, with relationships in over 2,000 communities in more than 140 countries. We provide our members with a number of programs to support them in promoting citizen diplomacy, and our members work tirelessly to promote peace and understanding through exchanges that focus on arts and culture, youth and education, business and trade, and community development.
What we do (and what our members do) is essential in promoting the importance of international exchange and people-to-people relationships worldwide. Explore our programs and exchanges below.
- Young Artists and Authors Showcase
Each year, students from member cities all over the world submit art, photography, film, and literature to our Young Artists and Authors Showcase (YAAS) for a chance to win $1,000 and to display their work at our annual conference. Visit our YAAS page to learn more
- J-1 High School Homestay
Member cities have the opportunity to host students from their sister city for a semester or year of high school in the United States. This highly popular exchange program is at the heart of Sister Cities International’s mission of creating bonds between people around the world. Visit the High School Homestay page to learn more
- Youth Leadership SummitOur yearly summit, which happens concurrently with our annual conference, engages the next generation of leaders aged 14-18 and introduces them to the world of international affairs while completing simulations and service projects with like-minded peers. Learn more about the Youth Leadership Summit
- Stevens InitiativeSister Cities International is among the second cohort of virtual exchange programs to be funded by the Stevens Initiative, an international effort to build career and global competence skills for young people in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa by growing and enhancing the field of virtual exchange: online, international, and collaborative learning. Learn more about the Stevens Initiative grant.
- Annual Awards
Our Annual Awards Program recognizes members for outstanding achievement in a number of programmatic areas that exemplify the mission of Sister Cities International. Winners are highlighted throughout the year and are honored at the Annual Conference’s Lou Wozar Awards Banquet. Learn more about the Annual Awards.
- Arts and CultureArts and cultural programs are some of the oldest and most robust in the sister cities network. These exchanges take many different forms such as musical performances, art exhibits, peace parks and gardens, and international cultural festivals. See arts and culture member stories
- Youth and EducationProviding experience in international affairs and citizen diplomacy to youth is a critical part of any sister city program. Sister city exchanges are often the first opportunity that youth have to travel abroad, and the experience of being a guest rather than a tourist is a unique opportunity that helps them develop cross-cultural competence and maturity. See youth and education member stories
- Business and TradeIn addition to trade delegations and tourism dollars, sister city programs create connections with international municipal officials, institutions, and businesses. These connections build trust, access, and expertise that help local businesses find new opportunities and resources. See business and trade member stories
- Community DevelopmentPeer-learning between municipal employees and elected officials through sister city activities has helped cities implement innovative policies and management techniques in sanitation, water, health, transportation, tourism, economic development, and education. Sister city programs also raise funds or collect supplies for natural disasters or other emergencies in their sister cities.See community development member stories