Anna Robles may be a resident of Redlands, but she is doing what she can to connect people on opposite sides of the world.
Robles is president of the Redlands Sister Cities Association, the volunteer group that facilitates communication and exchanges between Redlands and its sister cities Hino, Japan and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The association exchanges fire fighters, policemen and students throughout the year.
Robles said it is her mission to continue the partnerships with the other cities and help facilitate exchanges to educate the people of Redlands and its sister cities.
Most recently, Robles has been part of a project to renovate the association’s Peace Garden, and to assist in the Riverside Metropolitan Museum’s California Paper Crane Peace Project. She said the purpose of the projects, like the association, is to honor cultural awareness and understanding.
Robles took the time to answer some questions this week for the Local Leader series:
How did you get involved?
“I joined when my daughter, Adrienne (Robles), participated in a student exchange to Hino, Japan in 2006. Her trip to Hino was a wonderful experience for her and the rest of our family. We hosted a Japanese student the following summer.
“I also had an opportunity to travel when I was young, and know how much those experiences affected me and my view of the world. I wanted to be part of an organization that offered that type of experience to other families in Redlands.
“My commitment is continually reinforced when Redlands’ students return from their exchange visit. They invariably use terms like `eye-opening’ and `life-changing’ to describe their stay in Hino.
What is the mission of your work? What is your philosophy?
“(The) Redlands Sister Cities Mission Statement (is): Redlands Sister Cities Association is a nonprofit volunteer organization that supports partnerships between the City of Redlands and international communities. We strive to promote cultural awareness and understanding within our community.
“(The goals are): Develop and maintain municipal partnerships between Redlands and designated sister cities in other countries; Provide opportunities for the citizens of Redlands to experience and explore other cultures through reciprocal cultural, educational, and professional exchanges; Bring the diverse community of Redlands together through activities and programs; Collaborate with other community groups to support cultural awareness in the City of Redlands; Promote economic ties between Redlands and its Sister Cities.
How is that mission carried out?
“The Redlands Sister Cities Board is working hard to develop ways to fulfill the goals of our mission statement. The organization has always effectively organized exchange visits with our sister cities, especially Hino, Japan.
“We sponsored a group of four Redlands police officers on a trip to Hino last fall, a group of high school students from Redlands this spring and are hosting a visiting delegation of students from Hino for the next few weeks. We have also arranged for several Redlands teachers to work in schools in Linli, China.
“We’re hoping to plan activities that emphasis cultural awareness that more of the Redlands community can participate. In February, we organized a Metrolink trip to LA’s Little Tokyo and have a lot of plans for the coming year, including a new website and renovating the Peace Pole and the surrounding Japanese garden located on Cajon next to the old city hall
“As part of the garden project, Redlands Sister Cities is collaborating with the Riverside Metropolitan Museum to collect origami paper cranes for their California Paper Crane Peace Project. We will present the paper cranes to them when we re-dedicate the restored Peace Pole. Both projects honor the ideals of cultural awareness and understanding that are the cornerstones of the Sister Cities philosophy.
What are the challenges?
“We’re a small group of volunteers, so sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to accomplish all the things we’d like to do.
What is in your future with this organization?
“I have one more year before my term ends, but I think I will probably always stay involved with Sister Cities in some way. I think it’s a worthwhile cause and I enjoy working with the people I’ve met through Sister Cities.
If you had a magic wand, what would you make happen?
“I would make sure that every high school student in Redlands participated in an exchange visit to one of our Sister Cities.
Another voice: Roy Cencirulo, Redlands Sister Cities
past president and current vice president
“Anna brings a whole new dimension to Sister Cities. She has a great personality where she is very flexible and works with all ideas that are brought forth by the board. She continues to broaden the program by getting people more involved with the organization. She has just been a breath of fresh air to the organization.”
By CHANTAL M. LOVELL, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/26/2010 10:28:48 AM PDT
Original Article Posted at Redlands Daily Facts