For 35 years, Sister Cities International has brought the world’s attention to Fort Worth. Created by President Eisenhower after World War II, the Sister Cities International program aims to create peace and prosperity by forming friendships between people from different cities around the world. Today, our Fort Worth chapter of Sister Cities connects our community to nine “sister cities” in four continents, building cooperation between local governments, promoting cultural understanding, and stimulating economic growth. Our sister city ties give Fort Worth youth and adults windows to the world through programs and exchanges like a Fort Worth Police Department training program with officers in Toluca, Mexico, the creation of a TCU campus in Budapest, Hungary, and study abroad and internship opportunities in Reggio Emilia, Italy; Nimes, France; and Bandung, Indonesia. In 2013, our city’s Fourth of July fireworks show, already the largest in North Texas, was made especially spectacular by a gift of fireworks from our sister city of Nagaoka, the historic fireworks capital of Japan.
Last month marked Sister Cities Fort Worth’s thirty-fifth anniversary—with the Fort Worth City Council declaring the date, June 26, “Sister Cities Day” in Fort Worth—but the organization has even more reasons to celebrate. This month, for the tenth time in 35 years, Fort Worth Sister Cities was recognized as having the “Best Sister Cities Program in the Nation” by Sister Cities International, out of programs in nearly 500 communities around the world. Fort Worth Sister Cities distinguished itself partly through its major focus on youth programs, which aim to create future leaders who can one day help our city address challenges in this global era. One of these outstanding young people is Fort Worth’s own Will Lourcey, who founded a charity that fights hunger and poverty, and who was also awarded Sister Cities International’s Youth Leadership Award for his outstanding community service.
I’ve been proud to support our Sister Cities program since my time as Mayor of Fort Worth, knowing firsthand the importance of new business connections, tourism, and cultural understanding as our metroplex continues to grow at one of the fastest rates in America. In 2015, Sister Cities Fort Worth graciously honored me with their Global Leadership Award and with its Diplomatic Leadership Award in 2017.
Right now, as people-to-people interactions take on new meaning, Sister Cities Fort Worth is still connecting globally and enriching our community locally—through virtual platforms. While Sister Cities Fort Worth’s youth members meet through Zoom to organize games, leadership activities, and community service projects they can do from home, our city officials and those in our nine sister cities are advising each other on how to best reopen. Recently, Sister Cities Fort Worth conducted a virtual economic forum with Fort Worth city officials, local chambers of commerce, and their counterparts in Toluca, Mexico.
Fort Worth Sister Cities shows that when cities and their government and business leaders work together, understanding and opportunity among countries is born. True to President Eisenhower’s founding vision for Sister Cities International, the work of Fort Worth Sister Cities and our community’s promising youth can help build the future of our city, and our world.
Member of Congress