History of San Bernardino-Tachikawa Sister City Exchange Program
Our mutual friendship with Tachikawa started with the exchange of Japanese oranges and California navel oranges between U.S. servicemen stationed at the air base in Tachikawa, Japan and Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino back in the 1950's. The mayor of Tachikawa having learned about the Sister Cities Program founded by President Eisenhower inquired about San Bernardino to be "twinned" with Tachikawa. A number of common elements between the two cities existed. Among them included the similar size of our cities, both were agricultural centers fast giving way to industrialization, the presence of a vast military air base in both cities, and being located about an hour from a major city. In 1959 Mayor Raymond Gregory of San Bernardino and Mayor Sakurai of Tachikawa agreed to a sister city affiliation. Our organization was established by Mignon and Seymour Schweitzer and Louis and Thelma Press. Under their guidance our youth exchange program was established in 1962. Since then each city has exchanged over 200 students to become a part of their host families, many of whom maintain their friendships long after their initial summer together.
The student exchange program represents a third generation in San Bernardino and a fourth generation in Tachikawa. We are proud to be told we are the oldest functioning program of its kind in the country. We are supported entirely by funds raised by the San Bernardino-Tachikawa Committee members and citizens' donations. Our organization is composed entirely of volunteers, some of whom have been volunteering for over 30 years. It is through their hard work and dedication that the Sister City exchange program has endured for well over 50 years.
About Sister Cities International
Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 as the 'People to People initiative', Sister Cities International serves as the national membership organization for over 500 individual sister cities, counties, and states across the United States with relationships in 2,000 communities in 140 countries. The sister city network unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers who work tirelessly to promote peace and understanding through programs and projects focusing on arts and culture, youth and education, economic and sustainable development, and humanitarian assistance. The Sister Cities Program has increased international understanding and fostered world peace by furthering international communication and exchange at the person-to-person level through City to City affiliations.