The Sister City Association of Tracy was started and organized in 1989 by Mayor Richard Hastie to develop and promote a Sister City program for the City of Tracy.  With the City Council’s approval, Mayor Hastie contacted Ken Yasui, a dry bean broker, to help coordinate the initial effort to locate a Sister City.  After several years of negotiations, the first Sister City was selected in the town of Memuro, located on the island of Hokkaido, Japan. All Sister City programs are administered by a volunteer Board of Directors and governed by approved Articles stated in our By-Laws.

The primary activities of the Sister City Association of Tracy are to promote and organize youth and adult exchange programs. The Youth Exchange program has been providing unique cultural opportunities for Tracy’s eighth grade students for over 25 years.   All eighth grade students within the Tracy Unified School District boundaries (including the rural schools, e.g. Banta, Jefferson, Lammersville, etc.) are eligible to apply.  

The Sister City Association of Tracy currently has two Sister Cities, Memuro, Japan and Velas, Sao Jorge, in the Azores.  Memuro was chosen because of the commonalities between our cities, primarily the agricultural connections.  Memuro’s Mayor Suzuki came to Tracy during the Bean Festival in August 1989 to sign a City Pact between Memuro and Tracy.  Our Sister City in Velas was introduced in 1995 because of Tracy’s large Portuguese population and the desire to share this culture with Tracy’s youth. 

We have sent 19 Tracy Youth Ambassadors to Velas. We have sent more than 200 students over the past years to Memuro along with two chaperones each year. We have also hosted 10 students and two chaperones from Memuro annually in March.

 The Sister City Association has organized art and educational exchanges for both students and teachers.  Artwork from Tracy high school and middle school students is currently on display in Memuro’s city and school offices.  Student artwork from Memuro has also been shown in local schools and in the Tracy Unified District Office.  We would like to continue these efforts and hope to exhibit future artwork in Tracy’s new Center for the Arts.

Adult exchanges have led to baseball games between visiting Sister Cities, tours of Tracy hospitals, city and school offices, farming and agricultural areas.  This program contributes to the enhancement of strong public relations and presentation of a positive image for the Tracy community.  In the Fall of 2006 we hosted five adults from Memuro who had the opportunity to view Tracy’s local sites, including the Bean Festival, where we sold Japanese items provided by Memuro city officials. In March 2014, 14 adults including then Mayor Miyanishi traveled to Tracy to celebrate the 25th anniversary and in August 2019 we hosted 8 delegates including new Mayor Teshima for the 30th anniversary. 

All expenses for students, chaperones, and adults for these exchange programs are paid for through fundraising, donations, or personal contributions. 

In addition, our mission aligns with that of the International Sister City Association to unite persons of good will from all walks of life, from all ethnic backgrounds, and from all religious faiths in an effort to have a beneficial effect on the images and stereotypes that are commonly held of the people of other sections of the world.  We realize how important it is to encourage mutual respect, understanding and cooperation with our students as they learn about the customs and traditions of other countries.  Our student ambassadors attend cultural lessons before traveling abroad to learn about tolerance, traditions and the quality of life in another country. 

The Board of Directors represents a wide range of community backgrounds and interests.  The Board volunteer their time and efforts to further our exchange programs.  Board members are active in all activities that require participation, such as:

Our annual fundraising dinner in March is the primary source of financial support and we also receive support from membership donations.  Memberships are $25 for families and $50 for businesses.