Cultural Exchanges

Sister Cities Yorktown seeks to promote educational and cultural exchanges to promote understanding between the United States and France. Opportunities to make new friends, experience a new language, cuisine and customs promotes global understanding and peace. It is the primary mission of our organization.

Student Exchanges

Student exchange, March 24-April 5, 2019

In April of 2019, 13 York County students of French participated in the 4th student exchange to Yorktown’s Sister CIty of Port-Vendres in the south of France.  Students were warmly welcomed by host families in Port-Vendres and in the nearby towns of Argèles and Céret and attended classes with their French correspondents at the high school in Argèles.  The students and chaperones were also invited to a breakfast reception at the hôtel de ville (town hall) to meet with Port-Vendres representatives.  It was a wonderful opportunity for making international friendships

Student exchange, March 26-April 6, 2017

Eight York County high school students travel to Port-Vendres and Ceret, France, to attend classes in a real French school, fine-tuning language skills and making new friends for life. Students will be hosted by families. They will visit Barcelona, Spain, and Paris as part of the experience.

Student exchange, October, 2017

Students from Port-Vendres and Ceret, France, will visit Yorktown in conjunction with Yorktown Day, October 19. This is a reciprocal visit from that made by our York County
students in March. Details to follow.

Student exchange, October 14-22, 2015

Students from Port-Vendres and Ceret, France, will visit Yorktown in conjunction with Yorktown Day, October 19. This is a reciprocal visit from that made by our York County students in April, when 10 of them visited France to live with host families and attend school with their host students. See our blog for schedule of events and details!

Student exchange, March 31-April 12, 2015

Ten York County students departed Monday for France, challenging themselves to speak English only in emergencies, as they negotiate French classes in Port-Vendres and Ceret, and settle in with host families. Port-Vendres is Yorktown’s sister city. While a middle school is located there, Port-Vendres high school students attend classes in nearby Ceret, known as the home of Cubism. Annie Cao and Brittney Foreman, both Grafton High School students, received a Sister Cities Yorktown scholarship for the exchange. The program is administered by the York Foundation for Public Education, Inc. The total gift was $2,000. Read about their adventures on our blog!

Student exchange, Oct. 17-27, 2013

Eleven students from Port-Vendres, France, and nearby Ceret, visited this fall with their teacher-chaperone, Annie Villa. They were hosted by families representing Bruton, Grafton and Tabb High Schools. While in York County, they toured Yorktown, Jamestown, Williamsburg and enjoyed a day at Busch Gardens. They also participated in Yorktown Day events, including marching in the parade. They also visited New York City before returning home. Several of these students hosted York County students in their homes in France in 2012. Thank you to everyone who made these guests feel welcome.

Student Exchange, Sept. 30–Oct. 8, 2012

Eleven students, from Tabb Grafton and Bruton High Schools, represented our community, our country and our organization during last fall’s tour. Students applied and were selected based on their abilities in the French language, teacher and personal references, and an essay. The program was supported solely with donations (Sister Cities Yorktown, Rotary, Kiwanis, Yorktown Women’s Club, Hudson & Associates Architecture, Sandra & Fred Durr, Frankye & Richard McAdam, Sue & Stan Gorski, Carol Collier, Harvey & Billie McComb, David Derck, Marjorie Peterson, Shirley Estes, Lt. Col. Don Campbell and Margaret Slade) and a personal commitment by students and their families. This program receives no stipend from York County.

Student ambassadors included: Jessica Roy, Rachel Wilsey, Leah Parr, Alexis Ferebee, Sara Moniuszko, Megan Richards, Rebecca Mackey, Kelsey Rivers, Lilly Fawcett, David Anderson and Kathleen Brown. Chaperones are York County teachers: Roberta Bockrath and Pam Schwalenberg.

They were hosted by French families in both Port-Vendres and nearby Ceret. They corresponded with their host families over the past year prior to the visit. Activities  included tours to local historic and popular sites and a special reception hosted by Port-Vendres d’Abord. Their tour concluded in Paris.

Three students presented highlights to Sister City Yorktown members at the annaul meeting in January.

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Additional Reading:
article n°1- petit Journal
article indépendant 16 Novembre Yorktown

Citizen Exchanges

(Citizen exchanges are sponsored by Sister Cities Yorktown and a similar organization in France, Port-Vendres d’Abord.  In 2010, Ryson International, Inc., was a major corporate sponsor of anniversary events in Yorktown. No public funds are used to support the exchanges. In both exchanges, citizens were hosted by local families in private homes. )

Yorktown to Port-Vendres, July 13-17, 2017

Eleven delegates from Sister Cities Yorktown represented York County for Bastille Day Celebrations in Port-Vendres, France. Ambassadors included: Timorah and Brian Beales; Debra and Jim Paulus; Andrew and Diane Kleeger; Claudia Clark and Michael Hamele; Meghan Getgood; Kelly Phelan; and Alisa Landrum.

Citizen exchange, June 2-9, 2015

Five delegates from Port-Vendres, France, arrived in Yorktown to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the relationship between the French village and Yorktown. They participated in festivities surrounding the arrival of the Lafayette Revolutionary War frigate, the replica L’Hermione, June 5-8. Yorktown was the first U.S. port of call. The Port-Vendres delegation included Mayor Jean-Pierre Romero and his wife, Michèle; Georges Grau 1st deputy mayor of PORT- Vendres, and his Wife Michèle; Charlette Sipierre a great friend and supporter of our twin sister cities. It was a great visit and terrific celebration, with members opening their homes and hearts to our French friends!

Citizen Exchange, Oct. 20-24, 2013

Eight York County citizens participated in an exchange with residents of Yorktown’s sister city, Port-Vendres, the second citizen exchange since 2010. Yorktown and Port-Vendres have enjoyed a relationship since 1990. York County ambassadors included Don and Belinda Willis, Mario and Connie Buffa, Mark and Deborah Robinson and Paul and Judy Garman. Each couple was hosted by a Port-Vendres family. In addition to being introduced to the region’s fine food and wine, the week’s activities included a visit to the Mackintosh Interpretive Center, featuring the work of the artist and architect Charles Renie Mackintosh, a visit and lunch in the historic city of Carcassonne, and tour of Paulilles Recreational Park, which occupies a reclaimed dynamite factory operated by the Nobel family. Paulilles, on the road between the villages of Port-Vendres and Banyuls-sur-Mer,has been recognized as a protected ecological site by Natura 2000. The park contains a museum about the industrial heritage of the site as well as a traditional Catalan boat repair facility.

Yorktown to Port-Vendres, Sept. 15-20, 2010

Citizen Ambassadors: Don and Belinda Willis; Shirley Estes and Randy Colker; Tom and Poppet Nelson, Sandy and Ken Matthews, Linda Meadows, Mario and Connie Buffa, and Christine and Craig Hudson.

Thirteen ambassadors from York County have returned from a trip to Southern France, their bags stuffed with special memories, their stomachs full of delicious cuisine, and their hearts touched by new friendships made during these days in Yorktown’s Sister City, Port-Vendres.

The visit celebrated the 20th anniversary of the “twinning,” signed in 1990, and to renew ties to enrich citizens of both localities.

The whirlwind tour included visits to a natural park carved from an abandoned dynamite factory run by the Nobel family, a tour and tasting at a famous wine cooperative, tours of a Majorcan castle, meals in local restaurants, and aperitifs (cocktail receptions) offered by the city halls of Port-Vendres and Collioure. Ms. Hudson, a French teacher at York County High School was treated to lunch at the College in Port-Vendres. A “College” is the equivalent of a middle school in the U.S.

The group attended a special mass, and the official day of celebration, Sunday, Sept. 19, was distinguished by a parade, a classical concert, and speeches. A proclamation of congratulations on behalf of the York County Board of Supervisors was shared.

A special event was the “Faces of Friendship” photography exhibition at Le Dome. Renowned Virginia photographer Glen McClure visited Port-Vendres in 2009 and took portraits of citizens and dignitaries. In the summer of 2010, he did the same in Yorktown. Resulting images ‘introduced’ the villagers to each other: teachers, students, chefs, fishermen, farmers, infants and retirees.

>> Impressions by Christine Hudson

It was indeed a very special visit. I think we all agree about how phenomenal a welcome we received. The French could not have been more hospitable and we have made true friends for a long time to come!

Many things stand out, but a few that meant a lot to me  included the mass on Sunday. The priest translated the mass himself so that the Americans could have familiar copy. The chorus researched our hymns, discovered that “Amazing Grace” was popular and they sang it in English during the service. Lovely!  I also visited the school and lunched with three English teachers and the principal. They were very welcoming and we were amazed by the similarities and differences in our education practices. I noted how very fortunate we are in the U.S. as York County Schools has the latest technology at their disposal. We are all working on regular e-mail exchanges between our students.

As one who is fluent in French, I got a chuckle out of overhearing people on the street identifying us as the visiting Americans.

I was very moved by the whole experience, but I think the one thing that really stood out and drove home the importance of this relationship was the reception we received the final day by the whole town! We all felt like conquering heroes as we were walked through the town to applause along the way not only from people lining the streets but also looking out windows and sitting on rooftops. Not only were we in a parade but the town turned out for remarks at their monument noting the American’s fight for independence. It was very heartwarming and humbling experience to say the least. It seemed like each day was better than the last.

Port-Vendres to Yorktown, Oct. 17-21, 2010

Citizen Ambassadors: Georges & Michele Grau, Arlette Ceglarski, Anne-Marie de Cruz, Georges Michel, Jean-Louis Bellet, Charlotte SiPierre, Suzanne Razouls.

Eight visitors from Port-Vendres, France, celebrated Yorktown Days during a visit to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the twinning between the two villages in 1990.

Their visit to the U.S. was highlighted by Yorktown Day festivities, Oct. 19, with the wreath-laying at the monument to Alliance and Victory and the parade to the monument. Other highlights include visits to historic Jamestown and Williamsburg, tours of the Williamsburg Winery, Anheuser Busch, historic Fort Monroe and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk.

There were several opportunities for York County citizens to meet the visitors. On Yorktown Day, the guests shared Brunswick stew with the community at lunch, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., they rested at the hospitality room at Riverview next to Grace Church. York County French Club students hosted the hospitality room.

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, all were invited to the “Faces of Friendship Farewell Dinner” at the Riverwalk Restaurant, with keynote speaker Nancy Huppert from Sister Cities International. The dinner capitalized on the international photography exhibition, “Faces of Friendship,” with portraits by renowned Virginia photographer Glen McClure. Portraits were on view at the Gallery at York Hall, Oct. 17-24.

>> Dear friends

We are just back home on time and we are safe and sound after a very nice flight. We can never forget our stay in Virginia. It was fabulous. Your program was very busy and interesting, a great success. Each member of our delegation thanks all of you for your kindness and your warm-hearted reception. We are all inspired to tighten the links of our twin sisters. Long life to the exchanges of our two communities!

Georges and Michele Grau

Previous Exchanges

1990, 1992, 1996, 2006