History

Bakersfield Sister Cities

Bakersfield Sister City Project Corporation is an affiliate of Sister Cities International, an organization founded in 1956, as one of the original “people to people” organizations promoted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. On September 1, 1956, at a special White House conference, President Eisenhower challenged 50 civic and business leaders “to help build the road to peace” by working out “thousands of ways by which people can gradually learn a little more about each other.” Eisenhower’s dream of peace through understanding the culture of other peoples is a primary goal of Bakersfield Sister City Project Corporation, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization.

Bakersfield’s participation in this program began in 1961, when our sister city relationship with Wakayama, Japan was first established, followed by a formal agreement being signed by Mayor Gene Winer of Bakersfield and Mayor Senichi Takagaki of Wakayama in 1963. Over the years, our relationship has grown into a deeply rooted friendship. Frequent cultural, educational, civic, and business exchanges have enriched the lives of countless adults and school children both here in Bakersfield and in Wakayama. Anyone who has hosted a Japanese visitor, been fortunate enough to visit Wakayama and been so graciously entertained by the Japanese, or attended any of the wonderful performances by Wakayama students will tell you what a worthwhile program this is. Bakersfield Sister City’s role in all this is to sponsor such exchanges, arrange home stays, and aid in the planning and organization of trips and related events.

After 30 years with only one sister city, our organization–in cooperation with the mayor and the Bakersfield city council–began to explore the possibility of other sister city affiliations. As a result, in 1995, Mayor Bob Price and Vice-Mayor Pat Demond, along with a delegation representing Bakersfield Sister City, traveled to the newly independent Partisan District of Minsk, Belarus, in 1993, where we signed an affiliation agreement.

At the first California Sister Cities State Conference hosted by Bakersfield Sister City at the Holiday Inn Select, Mayor Price and Mayor Gao of Cixi, China, in 1996,, signed an affiliation agreement as part of a formal ceremony/dinner attended by more than 125 guests and dignitaries.

In July of 2005, Mayor Harvey Hall and a group of Bakersfield city officials and BSCPC representatives traveled to the city of Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico, where Mayor Hall and Querétaro’s Mayor Armando Rivera signed a Sister City affiliation agreement.

On September 25, 2006, Bakersfield signed a Sister City agreement with Bucheon, South Korea, following a visit to Bucheon by Mayor Hall and other officials in April.

Most recently, on August 29, 2011, Bakersfield and Amritsar, India, formalized their Sister City relationship with a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Mayors Harvey L. Hall of Bakersfield and Mayor Shwait Malik of Amritsar.

These relationships are now infused with the same spirit of friendship and good will that has characterized the Bakersfield-Wakayama relationship.