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August 19, 2009 > Bringing the world home to Union City

Bringing the world home to Union City

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By Courtesy of Lee Guio

As part of this year's Sister Cities Festival, the City of Union City will be transformed this Sunday, into an international hub of activity featuring authentic ethnic food, entertainment, cultural shows and merchandise from around the world. Four foreign cities will represent the diversity and international spirit of local residents. Included are Mexico's Santa Rosalia, India's Jallandar, the Philippines' Pasay City and Thailand's Chiang Rai. This year's event will include a buffet dinner, a multicultural show and a raffle of prizes from local merchants. Everyone is invited to be part of the fun, sample the food, wares and enjoy music from around the world.

The festival, sponsored by The Friends of Sister Cities of Union City, is celebrating its fifth annual event. Since its inception, the gala event has built cultural bridges between the City and its international neighbors to build harmony and respect. The sister-city concept was started in 1956 by President Eisenhower as a way to promote peace, allowing people to know about different cultures. "Mayor of Chiang Rai has visited us twice to date, along with a delegation of other administrators and students. We have also had several exchange students come from Chiang Rai and attend school here for about 30 days at a time," said Lee Guio, Commissioner, Union City's Human Relations Commission. "The students had the opportunity to learn another culture and to form lasting bonds and relationships with host families in Union City."

Friends of Sister Cities is a volunteer group comprised of individuals with ties to each of the four sister cities "Sister City relationships can change and morph based upon the needs and desires of the two cities. It can be based more on business, cultural exchanges or informational exchanges. For a sister city relationship to grow and sustain over time it needs to have a strong base of support in each city," said Guio. "That is the reason we have selected sister cities that tend to match the makeup of Union Cities population."

Dancers and musicians will perform shows that represent each of the sister cities and their respective countries. Organizers promise that audiences will be dazzled by the choreography and bright rhythms of dance shows from the Aztec dance group of Mexico, Los Danzantes, Thai dancers, Indian Institute of Arts and Culture and Mabuhay Folkloric Ensemble from Philippines. Special dance numbers by Steps, Styles, Spotlights Dance School will also be performed.

"It is very rewarding to see new faces at the festival each year and to see their interest in different people's and cultures and to see them enjoy the dances and music in our show. The organizers and performers also enjoy the process of planning and organizing the event and watching it unfold," said Guio. "We honor the diverse cultures and invite people to attend the event. This year we dedicate this festival to the 50th anniversary celebration of the City of Union City," said Pat Gacoscos, Chair of Friends of Sister Cities.

Union City Sister Cities Festival
Sunday, August 23
5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Ruggieri Senior Center
33997 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 918-7555 or (408) 888-8413

Admission $12: includes a buffet dinner

For tickets call Pat Gacoscos (510) 918-7555, Lee Guio (408) 888-8413. Tickets are available till August 22 at Raja Sweets in Union City. Contact Makhan Bains at (510) 489-9100. Tickets will also be available at the door.

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