Monday, May 29, 2023

Southlake Sister Cities Resumes Japan Exchange!

Southlake Sister Cities is busy prepping its 2023 Youth Ambassadors for their annual Tome, Japan cultural experience.

The City of Southlake and Tome, Japan, have had close ties since establishing a Sister City partnership in 1991. Since then, the two cities have hosted youth and adult delegations annually to strengthen the Sister Cities’ relationship and learn more about each other’s cultures. The Youth Ambassadors trip to Tome is a competitive community-favorite opportunity for Southlake teens to represent the City abroad.

The youth ambassadors and City-appointed chaperone are immersed in a cultural experience while living with host families and enjoying a wide range of activities planned by the City, schools, and their hosts. Unfortunately, Southlake Sister Cities could not send youth ambassadors to Japan during the last three years due to the pandemic.

The City is thrilled to continue this educational tradition once again. Our youth ambassadors and City chaperone are preparing to take off toward Japan on May 29, 2023. They will spend one week learning all about Japanese culture and visiting historical landmarks.

Here’s what this year’s City chaperone Veronica Lomas had to say about her upcoming trip.

“It is an honor to chaperone the Southlake Youth Ambassadors this year, I’m sure that they will immerse themselves in a cultural and educational experience that they will remember forever!” Veronica serves as the Southlake Deputy City Secretary.

Safe travels, Sister Cities delegates! We can’t wait to hear all about your adventures. Learn more about Southlake Sister Cities and how you can get involved by visiting their website.


Southlake Cares: Serving the Southlake Community One Partnership At A Time

North Texans gave it their all last week to help local nonprofits across the area.

Over $60 million in donations were received by Communities Foundation of Texas during the 14th Annual North Texas Giving Day.

Today, we take the time to reflect on the City of Southlake’s continued commitment to helping these organizations succeed by highlighting Southlake Cares.

The Southlake Cares initiative began in 2020 with the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. During that time, we challenged residents to support local organizations that tirelessly serve our community. Southlake residents rose to the challenge with their generosity. Southlake Cares is another way the City wishes to promote local non-profits.

Our residents benefit from the City’s partnership with select community organizations. Did you know the City has nine Community Service Agreements with Southlake and Tarrant County organizations? Each year, the City provides funding to these organizations to support their mission of providing cultural, emergency, educational, transportation, and crisis services to residents in need. Southlake City Council recently renewed our Community Services Agreements with these organizations, reaffirming our partnership with them.

Here is a list of the incredible organizations that enhance our community:

APEX Arts League: The City of Southlake partners with the APEX Arts League to host various art events in the community. APEX is dedicated to actively advancing the arts, artists, and arts education while promoting the concept and reality of a regional home for the arts in the Southlake area. Its mission is “to enhance appreciation, provide access, and promote participation in the arts in our community- the APEX of the DFW metroplex- through partnerships with leading arts and civic organizations.”

Arts Council NorthEast: With a vision of access to the arts for all and a mission to provide artistic, cultural, and educational opportunities to improve the quality of life in our communities, Arts Council North East partners with the City to present the annual Masterworks Series. The Masterworks Concert Series provides free concerts to the community and includes all genres of music.

Call A Ride Southlake: Call A Ride of Southlake, Inc. (CARS) is a not-for-profit corporation whose purpose is to provide free, non-emergency transportation for medical, dental, social, business, shopping, and personal needs to Southlake seniors and disabled adult citizens. They depend on volunteer drivers to transport our 55 and better community where they need to be.

Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange (GRACE): Grapevine Relief And Community Exchange (GRACE) is a Grapevine, Texas-based non-profit relief agency which provides food, clothing, financial assistance, and other vital necessities to people who are struggling with a limited income or recent emergency.

Metroport Meals on Wheels (MMOW): Metroport Meals On Wheels, Inc. is a non-profit organization that organizes volunteers to deliver hot lunches to homes of individuals who are elderly, frail, chronically ill, or homebound. They also host weekly luncheons at the Southlake Senior Activity Center.

SafeHaven of Tarrant County: SafeHaven of Tarrant County is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end domestic violence through safety, support, prevention, and social change.

Southlake Community Band: Southlake Community Band is a concert band of more than seventy talented adult amateur musicians who regularly perform in the North Texas cities of Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Colleyville, and surrounding communities. Don’t miss them at annual City events like the Stars and Stripes Festival and Home for the Holidays!

Southlake Historical Society: The Southlake Historical Society collects and preserves the history of Southlake for those now living in the area and for future generations. In addition, they host yearly educational events such as the Cemetery Tour and the summer Historical Society exhibits in Town Hall!

Southlake Sister Cities: Southlake Sister Cities is a non-profit organization that aims to foster global understanding, friendship, and communication through education and exchanges. Southlake Sister Cities represents Southlake abroad to our two sister cities, Tome, Japan, and Suzhou Wuzhong District in China!

While the challenge may have ended, it’s not too late to help! We invite you to join us in partnering with these incredible organizations by volunteering or making a donation.

It’s always the right time to show the world that Southlake Cares! For more information, visit our Southlake Cares webpage.

Southlake Sister Cities to Host a Free German Culture Seminar

Oktoberfest is right around the corner! Before you dawn your Dirndls and Lederhosen, join Southlake Sister Cities and guest speaker, Dr. Cindy K. Renker, to learn more about German culture and life behind the Iron Curtain.

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, October 11 at 6:30 PM in the Town Hall 3rd Floor Meeting Rooms. There’s more to Germany than pretzels and beer! Southlake Sister Cities invites you to listen to UNT Senior Lecturer and German Program Coordinator, Dr. Renker speak about her experiences growing up in East Germany.

Dr. Renker was born and grew up in East Germany. She currently lives in McKinney and teaches German Language, literature, and film, and is a fellow for the Israeli Studies Program at the University of North Texas. Her work focuses on German fairy tales and legends, German-Jewish poets, Holocaust films, and German women writers from the 18th and 19th centuries. She also writes and publishes novels about the Cold War, WWII, and the Holocaust under her pen name C. K. McAdam. Her novel, No Man’s Land was published in September of this year, and her next book will come out in February 2023.

Traditional German food will be available for attendees to sample. Don’t miss out on this fun, educational, and free event for the Southlake Community!

Southlake Sister Cities promotes peace through cultural education and understanding. Learn more about their mission here.

Join Southlake Sister Cities for the Rock Walk in the Park

We’re almost to the finish line of the Fit City Challenge, and we know just the way to rack up those final minutes!

Grab your walking shoes and creativity and meet Southlake Sister Cities on Saturday, May 14 at Bob Jones Park. Come out to Southlake’s new painted rock garden at 9:00 AM for a family-friendly, 0.5-mile hike on the paved path!

Come marvel at the painted rocks under the trees and take a moment to create your own painted rock that you can keep or leave behind to join the other painted rocks! Southlake Sister Cities will provide all the supplies to make your artistic vision come to life!

This is the perfect event to flex your athletic and creative muscles. Finish the Fit City Challenge strong with your friends and learn more about this incredible non-profit organization!

The rock garden is located next to the baseball fields, across from Boo Boo’s Buddies Dog Park.

See you at Bob Jones Park!


Southlake Sister Cities’ Rocks for Peace Program is Coming to Bob Jones Park

Paint one, take one, share one, leave one. Southlake Sister Cities is introducing their Rocks for Peace Program to Bob Jones Park and needs your help growing their painted rock collection!

What are Rocks for Peace, you ask? Southlake Sister Cities’ new program is one you won’t want to take for granite. In collaboration with the Community Services Department, SSC is forging a trail of painted rocks in Bob Jones Park to bring joy to everyone who sees them.

The goal is to create enough painted rocks to cover a trail, get people to explore a new side of Bob Jones Park, and share positive messages with the community. Southlake Sister Cities’ mission is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation; one individual, one community at a time. Now it will be one rock at a time as well!

We’re looking to grow our rock collection before placing them on the trail, and we need your help to paint some happy rocks! Southlake Sister Cities is participating in two Nature Center programs to create more painted rocks. Join in on the fun and paint a pebble that will have sedimental value for years to come!

Painting supplies and rocks will be provided. Just bring your creativity!

Paint Rocks for Peace with Southlake Sister Cities.

Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve Open House
Saturday, September 25
9:00 AM- 3:00 PM

Cross Timbers Nature Club
Wednesday, September 29
4:00 PM- 4:30 PM
*Registration required*

We’ll see you at the Nature Center!

Celebrate the Lunar New Year

Southlake Sister Cities and Southlake Public Library invite you to celebrate the start of the Lunar New Year with special events and activities.

It’s the Year of the Pig! A pig represents luck, overall good fortune, wealth, honesty and general prosperity.  Those born in the year of the pig are hardworking, peace-loving people who are truthful, generous, reliable, trusting, sincere, giving, and sociable. They have a great sense of humor and patient understanding.

Celebrate the start of the New Year with these special events.

Lunar New Year Story Time
Bring your children, ages 2-5 years, to a special story time event. Southlake Sister Cities will lead a themed story time with stories, songs and hands-on activities to introduce children to this cultural celebration.
Find it: February 5th | 10:45-11:15 a.m. | Southlake Town Hall 3rd Floor

Lantern Workshop
Let’s make lanterns! Bring your own design and supplies to the workshop, or come to make a simple lantern with provided materials. All ages. No registration is required.
Find it: February 16th | 3-5 p.m. | Southlake Town Hall 3rd Floor

Lunar New Year Celebration, Town Square Walk & Reception
Start the evening celebration with live entertainment. Enjoy live performances including a Dragon Dance, Chinese Yoyo, Martial Arts & more. All ages. No registration is required.
Find it: February 16th | 5:30-6:30 p.m. | Southlake Town Square Rustin Pavilion

Lantern Walk and Reception
Light up the night with hope for the New Year. Bring your lanterns (battery operated candles only) to light up the night in Southlake Town Square as we parade through the streets and around McPherson Park pond with a Chinese dragon and music. Follow the parade by celebrating the New Year together with a casual reception in Southlake Town Hall. Parade starts at the Pavilion in Southlake Town Square following the live entertainment.  All ages. No registration is required.
Find it: February 16th | 6:30 – 8 p.m. | Southlake Town Square and Town Hall

Visit Japan as a Southlake Sister Cities Youth Ambassador

Serving as an SSC youth ambassador gives Southlake and CISD students a unique opportunity for global friendship, cultural exploration and a life-changing experience. The application deadline for the Japan delegation is Friday, March 1.

SSC youth ambassadors will represent the City of Southlake in one of our two Friendship Cities: Suzhou, Wuzhong District, China, and Tome, Japan. The youth ambassadors and City-appointed chaperones are immersed in a cultural experience while living with host families and enjoying a variety of activities planned by the City, schools and their hosts. In 2018, SSC sent 18 Carroll ISD students on the trips—be sure to check out the videos they made of their experiences in China and Japan!

2019 Youth Ambassadors to Tome, Japan

Trip Dates: June 3 – June 10, 2019
Application Deadline: March 1, 2019
Eligibility: Southlake Sister Cities members ages 13–18

Sister Cities International is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation, one individual, one community at a time.”

For more information about the Southlake Sister Cities Youth Ambassador Program or application process, please contact Katy Hintze.

Southlake Volunteers Recognized with the Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award

Kiko and Dee Ekstrom were recently recognized by Southlake Sister Cities and the Southlake City Council for their longtime service to the City.

“Kiko and Dee have given thousands of hours to Southlake through their service to Southlake Sister Cities,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We are so grateful for their commitment and how they have worked to establish such a strong Sister Cities program in Southlake, particularly with the city of Tome, Japan.”

Kiko and Dee with councilKiko and Dee have been involved in Southlake Sister Cities for 26 years and worked tirelessly from the beginning when they helped establish the program in 1991. The Ekstroms have served in a variety of volunteer roles with Kiko serving as the president of the Southlake Sister Cities board.  They have overseen the youth exchange programs which has connected well over 500 students from both countries and have organized numerous adult visits.

Sister Cities’ 1st Vice President Barbara Walker praised the Ekstroms role in fostering friendship and understanding  at the June 19 Council meeting saying, “These relationships are pivotal to fulfilling the goal of Sister Cities which is to create citizen ambassadors.”

The Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who have completed more than 4,000 hours of volunteer work in their lifetime.  A plaque commemorating Kiko and Dee’s service and lifetime achievement award will be permanently installed in Southlake’s Town Hall in the coming months.

Southlake Sister Cities Brings Russian History to Southlake

Southlake Sister Cities is hosting a free history lecture on Russian history. Come and enjoy some traditional Russian snacks and learn more about Russia from Dr. Dan Orlovsky.

When: September 14 at 7:00 PM
Where: 3rd Floor, Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main Street, Southlake, TX

Southlake Sister Cities is about fostering understanding and acceptance across many cultures through personal experiences. “We picked Dr. Orlovsky because he is a professor of Russian studies at SMU (Southern Methodist University), and he focuses on the middle working class people of Russia rather than just the history of the country,” says Katy Hintze, vice president for the Southlake Sister Cities.

Dr. Dan Orlovsky is a professor and George Bouhe Research Fellow in Russian Studies at SMU. He is a specialist in the history of Provisional Government after the February Revolution of 1917, and he continues to study the history of a much understudied hidden class of Soviet citizens, people who were neither workers nor peasants, the white collar “employees” of the Soviet Union between 1918 and 1956. Dr. Orlovsky travels annually to Moscow to work in the trade union, Communist Party and state bureaucracy archives in pursuit of this hidden class.

This is the third speaker Sister Cities has brought to Southlake. Past lectures included a speaker from China and a speaker from Germany.  Southlake Sister Cities creates such events to help educate the community about other cultures and to create understanding.

Learn more about Sister Cities at