International Relations

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globally connected

Each year St. Pete welcomes visitors from all over the world to enjoy the museums, art galleries, shopping, dining, waterfront parks, and white sandy beaches this area has to offer. Our city’s global reach strengthens our local economy and culture and St. Pete has been participating in global outreach for over 50 years. 

Since 1961, St. Pete has been a member of Sister Cities International, a citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between communities in the United States and those in other countries, particularly through the establishment of "sister cities." 

St. Pete has a Sister City relationship with Takamatsu, Japan, and Isla Mujeres, Mexico, as well as a “Friendship City” relationship with Figueres, Spain. 

The St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society, Inc. (SPIFFS), an organization with long-standing support from the city’s international community, has been charged with providing support and future expansion of St. Petersburg’s Sister Cities program. Those with an interest in the Sister Cities program and furthering cultural exchanges within St. Pete should contact SPIFFS at 727-289-3744. 

Takamatsu, Japan

St. Pete has had a Sister City relationship with Takamatsu, Japan since 1961. The hope has always been to deepen mutual understanding and friendship between the United States and Japan through citizen-to-citizen contact and help to provide opportunities to study abroad and make dreams come true for the young people of Takamatsu. As part of its relationship, the City participates in a summer cultural exchange of Student Ambassadors with Takamatsu. 

Student Ambassador & Host Family Programs

Each year the City of St. Petersburg sponsors two to three local high school juniors to represent the city as goodwill ambassadors to our Sister City of over fifty years, Takamatsu. These students receive complimentary roundtrip airfare to Takamatsu and accommodations with a Japanese family (or families) for up to three weeks during the summer. Students participate in daily activities, visit landmarks, and share cultural experiences with Japanese host families. In return, visiting high school students from Takamatsu are placed with St. Pete host families for similar cultural learning experiences. 

Student Ambassador Program

Candidates for the Student Ambassador Program must live in St. Pete and be in their junior year of high school when they apply. Ideal candidates for this program are dedicated, energetic St. Pete students who demonstrate civic pride and would feel confident representing our city and sharing our culture with the community in Takamatsu. Upon return, students will be expected to share their experiences with students, civic groups, other interested citizens and provide a presentation of their trip with the Mayor and City Council.

How to Apply

Applications are on hold for 2023.

Host Family Program

Each year the City selects several local families to host students from Takamatsu. Host families provide room and board to a Japanese student for several weeks, sharing St. Pete culture and traditions with them and making them feel welcome and supported during their stay. 

Families interested in hosting a student in their home should submit a Host Family Application to the Office of Cultural Affairs.