We, the members of the Bethlehem-Tondabayashi Sister City Commission, have an abiding interest in and fondness for all things Japanese. The relationship between our two cities has been a long one, and with the help of our sister city, we strive to provide the citizens of Bethlehem with a better understanding of the Japanese culture in two ways:
First, by providing information about Japan through a variety of means:
We have a collection of Japanese artifacts that are housed in cases at Bethlehem City Hall and we maintain the Garden of Serenity, which is located on the west side of the Bethlehem Public Library. The artifacts in the Rotunda, the tea house and garden, and 60 cherry trees surrounding City Hall Plaza are all gifts from our sister city. The Commission further attempts to educate the public about Japan through its sponsorship of an annual Cherry Blossom Festival, free Japanese lessons at the library, and by providing links to sites that give information about different aspects of Japanese culture.
Second, by providing direct people-to-people interaction:
We accomplish this by overseeing a two-way Student Exchange Program. During odd-numbered years, the Commission arranges to send students from Bethlehem to Tondabayashi for a three-week homestay; during even-numbered years, students from Tondabayashi come to stay with host families in Bethlehem. Information about the program and how to apply may be found here!
The Bethlehem-Tondabayashi Sister City Commission is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization whose members are appointed by the Bethlehem City Council and whose funding is provided by donations from the public in addition to a small stipend from the City of Bethlehem.
We welcome the enthusiasm and ideas of new members. Feel free to drop by one of our monthly meetings, which are held at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month, in the Laros Room of the Bethlehem Public Library (11 W Church St). (There are no meetings during August or December.)