Sister Cities & Sister Schools

    The 21st century has brought forth a new era of global interaction. Technologies today allow for almost instant connections between foreign governments, corporations, educational institutions, and common citizens. With this profound global connectedness has come a new effort to promote understanding and responsibility across borders. Although numerous definitions and distinctions exist, Global Citizenship was simply defined by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan back in 1961 as “ [T]hinking and acting as global citizens [means] understanding the need for all peoples to seize common opportunities and defend against shared threats” (Macalester 2011). Another definiton of being a citizen of the world is characterized by a lack of discrimination towards others, an appreciation for other ways of life and the desire for happiness and welfare throughout the world (Rebelmasala 2011). As people have become more connected to the rest of the world, many have felt the need to promote positive relationships with communities in other countries.  One manifestation of the ideals of global connectedness and citizenship became the creation of Sister City and Sister School partnerships.
    The mission of Sister City or Sister School relationships is to promote peace, respect and cultural understanding between two foreign communities ( Sister City relationships go back to the 1930's in the United States, and as far back as the year 836 in Europe (wikipedia 2011), where Sister City partnerships are known as twinning. Currently this interaction has reached a point where many cities have multiple sister city partners around the world. An extension of the Sister City relationship is the idea of a Sister School. Sister Schools operate on the same premise of promoting international understanding and partnership between two institutions. Schools will often times work on individual community and schools presentations, collaborative instructional topics, or humanitarian outreach projects
projects, which lead to better understanding of their respective cities or schools. These activities can be either short-term partnerships with a particular school, or a long-term relationship with one institution, which may or may not be from an official Sister City. The growth of technologies over the past decades has led to a greater variety of educational projects and the ability to create more complex work collaboratively.   

    The digital age has provided an exciting opportunity for increased contact with these partner communities and institutions. Technologies can now be used, primarily through the Internet, for dynamic, multimedia-based methods of communication, which encourages global education and understanding. In the spirit of web 2.0, a new level of collaboration can exist that was not available before. What simply might have been a letter exchange in the past, can now be interactive, collaborative efforts using audio, video, digital photos, cell phones, and internet-based platforms. Civic officials, school administrators, teachers, and students are gradually using a variety of new technologies to interact in ways never seen before.  By increasing the flexibility of how students and citizens can interact and collaborate together, global citizenship and connectedness has profound possibilities for the future of Sister School and Sister City partnerships.

    The following pages show how technology is being used in the name of global connectedness and world citizenship. Each page is organized by the type of technology used, with a listing of the Sister School/City partnership, an overall topic theme, and a link to the original source.  These examples illustrate how foreign communities and schools are using technology for powerful Sister City and Sister School relationships, increasingly incorporating unique forms of collaboration to enhance global understanding and interaction.


Global Citizen: A Definition. (n.d.). Young Global Citizen. Retrieved July 13, 2011, from

Global Citizenship. (n.d.). Macalester College: Private Liberal Arts College. Retrieved July 9, 2011, from

SCI: Programs and Services - Sister Schools Toolkit. (n.d.). Sister Cities International (SCI): Welcome. Retrieved June 2, 2011, from

Sister Cities International (SCI): Welcome. (n.d.). Sister Cities International (SCI): Welcome. Retrieved June 1, 2011, from

Twin towns and sister cities - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved July 21, 2011, from

William. (n.d.). Education for Global Citizenship. The University of Vermont. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from