Twenty students from Yeongdong County, South Korea recently visited the Academy of Alameda, California at the end of January. Yeongdong County officials funded this visit as part of the sister city relationship with Alameda. The two localities began discussing the relationship in November 2015 when mayors of both cities met in the Philippines and pledged to build closer ties. The sister city relationship was finally formalized in May of 2017. Yeongdong County is located in Northern Chungcheong province of South Korea and is famous for its wineries.
During this visit, students ranging in age between 11 and 15 had the opportunity to learn American culture and language, and make new friends. They also attended PE, math, and dance classes at Mastick Senior Center as well as tours of the USS Hornet Museum and the Air & Space Museum.
Developing a sister-city relationship allowed Alameda residents to support humanitarian and peace programs in South Korea, while providing opportunities for residents to work in both regions’ wine industries, including Spirits Alley at Alameda Point.
California has many exchange programs with Korean cities, including 28 sister city relationships. Northern Chungcheong province alone has five sister-city relationships with California. California also has the largest number of Korean students among all US states, and Koreans are among the top five largest Asian populations in Alameda County. In 2016, Koreans contributed $395 million to California’s economy. Alameda has the second largest number of Korean immigrants eligible for naturalization (2,756), behind only Santa Clara County (6,559).
Yeseul Oh is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. and an Asan Wahshington Young fellow with the Asan Academy in Seoul. She is a student of Kyunghee university in South Korea