Passionate students bring foreign culture to Carlsbad


Gretchen Miller

CHS is sister cities with Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, as pictured above. Sister Cities International is a nonprofit organization connecting cities, countries and states across the globe in hopes to advance peace and prosperity. Students founded the club as a branch off of the Carlsbad Sister Cities volunteer group.

Gillian Allen, Writer

You don’t have to bust your budget this year to experience a foreign country and learn about international affairs. Passionate students have found a way for anyone at Carlsbad High to learn about foreign culture without having to fly overseas. Although it does offer the opportunity to do a foreign student exchange, Sister Cities International is a club that makes learning about cultural awareness easy, accessible and engaging.

Sister Cities International is a global, nonprofit organization that connects cities, countries or states across the globe in order to advance peace and prosperity. Students at CHS have founded the SCI club as a branch off of the Carlsbad Sister Cities volunteer group.

“We founded the club because we want to get more youth in the community involved in global awareness,” senior and Publicity Director Gretchen Miller said. “Carlsbad is sister cities with Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and Futtsu in Japan. I’ve actually been to Karlovy Vary and it’s so different from Carlsbad but similar at the same time.”

Two cities don’t have to have many similarities to be considered “sisters” and one city can be matched with more than one. However, Karlovy Vary and Carlsbad share many shocking similarities.

“Karlovy Vary actually translates to ‘Karlsbad’ in Czech and this city is famous for its spas and mineral water which surprisingly we are too,” Miller said.

Senior Kara Dolan is president of the club as well as a junior ambassador for the organization along with the majority of the SCI club members. Anyone can be a junior ambassador by joining the official Carlsbad Sister Cities Organization and paying a ten dollar fee. The SCI junior ambassadors for Carlsbad started the club at the end of last year.

“We talked to the Carlsbad City Board about starting the club because we wanted to get more high school students involved,” Dolan said. “It’s kind of hard to find out about this kind of organization without having a club because a club is something on campus that students hear about it in announcements and can easily sign up for.”

The club members and junior ambassadors are working to engage their peers in foreign culture awareness.

“We’re doing specific tasks that feed into the organization, like fundraising for the Karlovy Vary trip for 2015,” Dolan said. “We do student exchanges, help raise money for our sister cities and other projects to help each other out and learn about each other’s culture.”

Ties between Carlsbad and its sister cities have been strong and are thriving as mutually beneficial relationships.  At the end of her eighth grade year, Miller went to Karlovy Vary during summer as part of Carlsbad’s Sister Cities Organization to present the idea “Carlsbad in a Suitcase” to the Lord Mayor and some delegates.

“We’ve actually had the Lord Mayor come to Carlsbad too so even through that we keep connections,” Miller said. “Japanese students from Futtsu also come to Carlsbad and we’ll give them tours and pretty much work to break the cultural barriers. We do a project called ‘Futtsu/Karlovy Vary in a Suitcase’ where we have club members research the cities and get things that represent them, and then we put it all in a suitcase to present to elementary schoolers in the community.”

Miller, Dolan and the members of SCI club are all passionate about cultural awareness and global perspective and are interested in seeing how places so different can relate on so many levels. The club meets on every odd Thursday.

“I hope that SCI makes people more accepting and open to different cultures because a lot of people shut down when they see something that’s unusual to them,” Dolan said.  “I hope this club brings more of a foreign aspect to Carlsbad because there’s so much more out there.”