San Antonio’s efforts to strengthen ties with international sister cities during its Tricentennial year, in which 241 sister-city delegates visited the city, were recognized by the organization that facilitates relationships between international communities.

“Our Tricentennial year offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for San Antonio to shine a spotlight on our international partnerships, vibrant history, and cultural diversity,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who also is chairman of Sister Cities International, said in a City news release.

During 2018, the City invited its 11 sister cities and two friendship cities from around the world to discuss and promote civic, educational, and cultural exchanges. San Antonio’s sister cities are Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico; Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain; Chennai, India; Darmstadt, Germany; Gwangju, South Korea; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Kumamoto, Japan; Windhoek, Namibia; and Wuxi, China. Its friendship cities are Suzhou, China, and Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel.

Nirenberg spearheaded the effort to use the Tricentennial year to mark this global outreach and collaboration, leading to a Sister Cities International 2019 Award for Best Overall Program. San Antonio won in the category for cities with a population greater than 300,000.

“By engaging our official relationships and our citizens in these community events, we improved the visibility of our Sister Cities program and generated further interest both internationally and locally in our efforts to increase our global fluency,” Nirenberg said.

Efforts in 2018 to increase global recognition included the Feb. 17, 2018, inaugural All Mexico-U.S. Sister Cities Mayors’ Summit. More than 60 mayors and public officials from more than 30 U.S. and Mexican cities gathered in Guadalajara, Mexico, to discuss challenges facing both countries. San Antonio also hosted 111 foreign delegates representing six of San Antonio’s sister cities and friendship cities May 2, 2018, at the Founder’s Gala. The next day the delegates from China, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Japan, and South Korea attended a luncheon led by the Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce and other chambers of commerce to discuss economic relations.

The City’s efforts also included local events throughout 2018 to showcase the cultures from these cities to the residents of San Antonio. Musical Bridges Around the World organized the Sister Cities Jazz Ensemble on Jan. 31, 2018, featuring artists from Darmstadt, Windhoek, and Kumamoto.

“It has long been a priority of our Sister Cities program to engage in active and meaningful interactions with our global partners,” City Manager Erik Walsh said in the news release. “Our Sister Cities programming in 2018 attracted new tourists and global business leaders to San Antonio and helped strengthen these cultural and business relationships.”

Laura Morales is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a contributor to The Daily Texan.