Raleigh's Sister Cities

Last updated Jul. 31, 2018 - 1:56 pm
Raleigh Sister Cities logo

Purpose, History and Mission:

Raleigh Sister Cities (RSC) seeks to promote friendship and understanding between the people of Raleigh and its Sister Cities. RSC is a cooperating member of Sister Cities International, whose mission is:

“To promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation - one individual, one community at a time.”

The RSC goal is to enable the citizens of Raleigh and the residents of its Sister Cities to exchange ideas and experiences in the areas of education, culture, sports, the arts, business, and economic development, and to promote exchanges between the cities and their citizens.

Raleigh became associated with the Sister Cities program in 1986 and now has partnerships with five cities: Kingston Upon Hull, England; Compiegne, France; Rostock, Germany; Xiangyang, China and Nairobi, Kenya. Current projects include cultural, sporting, and student exchanges, economic and community health projects as well as other events in Raleigh and its Sister Cities. The programs, which are organized by Raleigh Sister Cities’ members, seek to broaden understanding and friendship between Sister City communities and their citizens. Raleigh Sister Cities was instrumental in establishing the International Festival held annually in Downtown Raleigh.

RSC is an all-volunteer non-profit 501(c)3 organization that supports its programs with donations and grants. RSC is governed by a Board of Directors elected by its membership. Board meetings are held regularly, and general members are welcome to attend. Membership is open to all who are interested in promoting and fostering the aims of the organization.  Raleigh Sister Cities also collaborates with the City of Raleigh to engage citizens in the organization’s programs.

Sister Cities International was founded in the 1950s under the leadership of President Eisenhower and now represents more than 2,400 partnerships in 134 countries.

Upcoming Events

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Snippets from News Releases


"Voices from our Sisters" Exhibit
News posted Oct. 26, 2016

Want to visit five countries without leaving Raleigh? You can by stopping at the City of Raleigh Museum (COR Museum) to tour the “Voices from our Sisters” exhibit. Organized by Raleigh Sister Cities, this exhibit features our five sister cities: Hull, England; Compiegne, France; Rostock, Germany; Xiangyang, China; and Nairobi, Kenya. Videos, photographs and artifacts from each city, along with information about their varying cultures, are on display.


“Art from Raleigh Sister Cities” Will Open with a May 19 Reception
News posted on May 2, 2016

“Art from Raleigh Sister Cities” will open with a reception on May 19, 2016, in the Betty Ray McCain Art Gallery at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts, 2 E. South St. The exhibit runs through the end of July. A special preview will be held during First Fridays, May 6. The exhibit will also be open during Artsplosure, May 20-22, during public performances at Meymandi Concert Hall and by appointment.

Raleigh Sister Cities to Host Workshop to Discuss Public Art Signpost Project
News posted on April 1, 2016

Raleigh Sister Cities will host a public workshop on Tuesday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the creation of a signpost to identify the names, directions and distances to Raleigh’s five sister cities. The workshop will be held at Mordecai Historic Park Visitor Center, 1101 Wake Forest Rd.

Raleigh Sister Cities to Host International Student Panel Discussion
News posted Feb. 08, 2016

Raleigh Sister Cities will host an international student panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Mordecai Historic Park Visitor Center, 1101 Wake Forest Road. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel discussion will focus on the experiences of international students as they adapt to American culture and the U.S. education system. University and high school students from France, Germany, China, Kenya and the United Kingdom will participate. John Luecke, a retired High Point University faculty member, will moderate the discussion.

Raleigh Sister Cities 30th Anniversary Celebration Kicks Off Jan. 19
News posted Jan. 11, 2016

Raleigh Sister Cities will kick off its 30th anniversary, yearlong celebration at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Mordecai Historic Park Visitors Center, 1101 Wake Forest Road.

During the celebration kick-off, attendees will have an opportunity to learn about upcoming special events such as the craft beer collaboration with visitors from Kingston upon Hull, England, and the Taste of Our Cities – Farm to Fork fundraiser. Additional events planned throughout the year are a visual arts exhibit featuring artists from Raleigh’s Sister Cities and a City of Raleigh Museum exhibit featuring residents of our sister cities titled 'Voices from Our Sisters.' Attendees will also be able to meet Raleigh citizens who coordinate exchange programs with the five Sister Cities: Xiangyang, China; Compiegne, France; Rostock, Germany; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kingston upon Hull, England.

Raleigh Sister Cities Honors Veterans with Trio of Events on Nov. 11
News posted Nov. 03, 2015

In commemoration of the signing of the Armistice of 1918 that ended World War I, and in honor of all veterans who have served in the cause of freedom, the Raleigh Sister Cities Committee will host three events on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11. The public is invited to participate.

The annual Armistice/Veterans Day 5K Run, sponsored by the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) units of North Carolina State University, starts at 5:45 a.m. on Pullen Road near the N.C. State Bell Tower and concludes at 7 a.m. The Bell Tower is a memorial to those who died in France during WWI. Those who choose not to participate in the 5K run are invited to the 7 a.m. sunrise ceremony that includes the presentation of a floral tribute to the citizens of Raleigh from the citizens of Compiegne, France. The ceremony will take place at the Bell Tower with remarks by General Bolger, Ret. US Army.

North Carolina’s First Sino-U.S. Business Conference to be Held on June 8
News posted Jun. 03, 2015 - 6:00 am

North Carolina’s first Sino-U.S. Business Conference will be held in Raleigh on June 8. Attendees include the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, which will consist of a delegation of 21 Chinese government officials and representatives of more than 13 manufacturing companies. The Chinese group is visiting Raleigh to explore opportunities to create business partnerships and expand trade in North Carolina.

Raleigh Sister Cities Offers Volunteers Exciting Opportunities
News posted Jan. 14, 2015

To launch the commemoration of its 30th anniversary in 2016, Raleigh Sister Cities invites the public to a volunteer information session and social on Thursday, January 29 at 5:30 p.m. The event will be held at the Mordecai Historic Park Visitor Center, 1101 Wake Forest Road.

Raleigh Sister Cities Hosting Visit by Kenyan Ambassador
News posted Dec. 12, 2014

Robinson Njeru Githae, recently appointed Kenya’s ambassador to the United States, will visit Raleigh on Saturday, Dec. 20. Mr. Njeru Githae will be the guest of honor at a town meeting introducing him to the community, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Five Points Center for Active Adults, 2000 Noble Road. The public is invited to attend.

Raleigh Sister Cities Sino-African Initiative Partnership Receives Award from United Nations
News posted Nov. 24, 2014

A Sino-African Initiative (SAI) of Sister Cities International received the “2014 South-South Cooperation for Partnership” Award from the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation on November 1. The Office of South-South Cooperation is a broad framework for collaboration among countries of the southern hemisphere in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains. The projects are initiated, organized and managed by developing countries.

Local Golfers to Visit Raleigh’s French Sister City This Week
News posted Sep. 02, 2014

This will not be your typical golf outing from a distance perspective though camaraderie will very much be on the agenda.

A 12-member delegation representing the Sister Cities Association of Raleigh is traveling nearly 4,100 miles to Compiegne, Raleigh’s Sister City in France. All the members of the group just happen to be golfers. The delegation leaves Raleigh on Wednesday, Sept. 3, for a six-day visit designed to further the goal of the local Sister Cities Association in promoting mutually beneficial relationships between the residents of Raleigh and its sister cities. The Sister Cities Association also facilitates the exchange of ideas and experiences in the areas of education, culture, the arts and economics.

Raleigh Remembers D-Day with French Sister City Officials
News posted Jun. 06, 2014

Mayor Nancy McFarlane welcomed officials from Raleigh’s French Sister City on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Compiegne Mayor Philippe Marini and Deputy Mayor Arielle Francois met with Mayor McFarlane in her office in the Avery C. Upchurch Complex at 222 W. Hargett St.

Kingston Upon Hull, England

Hull, England skyline


Raleigh’s first Sister City, established October 3, 1986

Where is it?
The City of Hull is on the eastern side of the U.K. It is located at the mouth of the River Hull, on the Humber Estuary, midway between London and Edinburgh.

What are the partnership activities and opportunities?
Many exchanges have taken place between the two cities with an emphasis on reciprocal home stays. As Raleigh Sister Cities renews its relationship with Hull, Raleigh looks forward to participating in Hull’s City of Culture Celebration in 2017.

A little more about it…
In 1293 King Edward made Hull his northern base and supply port. Six years later he granted its first Royal Charter. Historic and modern Hull boasts of its museums, marinas, and the Old Town conservation area, as well as its factories, offices, and shops. Hull is the home of the scenic Queens Gardens and the Humber Bridge, one of the world’s longest single span suspension bridges.

A Music and Performance Arts Festival called the Freedom Festival is held in Hull each year. The eclectic mix of entertainment welcomes a varied audience to experience music, dance, art, street theater and entertainment from across Europe. Named the UK City of Culture for 2017, Hull will host an unmatched collection of art and cultural events. The City of Culture website describes the destination:

“Yorkshire’s only maritime city, Hull is a place shaped by the tides and the seasons where east meets west, north meets south, island meets mainland. To some, the city is seen as isolated or on the edge, but in reality it has been at the centre of major trade routes, migration and enlightened thinking for centuries. Today, it is the UK’s front door, a city at the heart of northern Europe, with a major ferry link to Rotterdam and pole position on the E20 trans-Europe route from St Petersburg to Limerick.”

“It is quirky and irreverent and different from any other British city – It has a willful independence because it is on the edge of the earth.” - Rosie Millard, The Daily Telegraph

Compiegne, France

Compiegne Town Hall


Raleigh’s second Sister City, established in July 1989

Where is it?

Compiegne is less than an hour northeast of Paris at the edge of France’s most beautiful national forest.

What are the partnership activities and opportunities?
Numerous school exchanges have highlighted the relationship between Raleigh and Compiegne. Our partnership has also included visits by Raleigh performing groups like Theater in the Park, the Raleigh City Symphony, NC State University (NCSU) Chamber Singers, and the Raleigh Boys’ Choir. In recent years there have been exchange visits involving cyclists, tennis players, and golf enthusiasts. The summer of 2014 brought a visit from the Mayor of Compiegne to our city, and an opportunity for Compiegne golfers to host Raleigh visitors for a variety of experiences and relationship building. Plans are underway to resume secondary school exchange programs in 2015-16 and to develop a collaboration between Compiegne’s University of Technology (UTC) and NCSU.

A little more about it…
Compiegne’s history includes the site of the capture of Joan of Arc and a magnificent Chateau that was home to “the hunt” during the reign of Loius XV. The city was also the site of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. Since 2008, Raleigh Sister Cities has joined with the ROTC units at NCSU in commemorating the anniversary of Armistice Day with a daybreak ceremony at the NCSU Bell Tower, drawing hundreds of students and Raleigh citizens. The Bell Tower was built as a memorial to the 35 members of the NCSU community who lost their lives in France during WWI. Some years there has been an 11 AM Armistice Day ceremony in Compiegne Park in Raleigh. There is also a Raleigh Roundabout in Compiegne.

Compiegne’s old-growth beech and oak groves make up one of the most beautiful forests of France. An extensive network of bike paths and over 1,000 km of forest trails and roads crisscross this large forest. Since 1968, Compiegne has been the start city of the famous Paris-Roubaix bicycle race. Compiegne is also home to the University of Technology of Compiegne (UTC), an engineering school founded in the mid-1970s to provide an alternative to the traditional “grandes écoles” for students interested in technical fields.

“The people are as charming as the town itself and represent the best values of the Sister Cities program – citizen to citizen friendship that can lead to a lasting peace in the world.” - Gretchen Chapman, Chair of the Compiegne Committee

Rostock, Germany

Rostock skyline


Raleigh’s third Sister City, established June 2001

Where is it?
Rostock is the gateway to northern Europe on the banks of the River Warnow, two hours by car north of Berlin.

What are the partnership activities and opportunities?

This partnership has featured exchanges between scientific groups associated with universities in each city and with high school students, such as N.B. Broughton High School’s exchange with Erasmus Gymnasium since 2005. The Sister Cities’ Rostock Committee has also organized special dinners at Capital Club 16 in downtown Raleigh and plans to hold a family-friendly Quiz Bowl night for German enthusiasts this year.

A little more about it…

This city is home to the oldest university in continental northern Europe, The University of Rostock, founded in 1419. It also has a substantial commercial ship building industry and a history of port life as part of the Hanseatic City Ring on the Baltic Sea. The harbor invites visitors to linger and connects Rostock to Scandinavia and the eastern countries bordering on the Baltic. The city is home to the annual Hanse Sail festival, when many large sailing ships and museum vessels are brought out to sea.

Its location near the Baltic coast makes Rostock one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Germany. The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research touts the slogan widely heard in Rostock:

“We live where other people go on vacation.”

Xiangyang, China



Raleigh’s fourth Sister City, established November 2008

Where is it?
The City of Xiangyang is in the Hubei Province in eastern China.

What are the partnership activities and opportunities?
Our cities have engaged in numerous education, business and economic exchanges since 2008. In 2012, Xiangyang, Raleigh and Osogbo, Nigeria, began establishing public health centers in the African city as part of the Sister Cities International-funded Sino-African Initiative. The cities will continue to focus on collaboration in education and the high-tech industry. A trip to Xiangyang is planned for September 2014 to strengthen economic and educational partnerships.

A little more about it…
Xiangyang was first built during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD) and has a long history. The city is divided by the Han River, which runs through its heart and divides the city north-south. The city itself is an incorporation of two once separate, ancient cities: Fancheng and Ziangzhou. During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, the old city was built up to be even more spectacular. Golden tiles and colored glazes made the city wall shine in the sunlight and reflect imposingly in the surrounding moat. Today, remnants of the city wall of ancient Xiangyang City are all that remains of the Ming Dynasty.

The city’s reputation is also established on its time-honored function as a transportation center, enabling the commercial and cultural exchanges of North and South China. In 2014, Raleigh and Xiangyang won Sister Cities International’s United States-China Sister Cities Award in the “Most Innovative” category. Raleigh’s Mayor Nancy McFarlane reflected on the partnership in The Carolinian News:

“We’re very pleased to receive this international recognition of the innovative accomplishments of Raleigh and Xiangyang, its sister city. The Sister City program has proved its value many times over.”

Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi skyline with giraffe


Raleigh’s fifth Sister City, established 2012

Where is it?

Located in East Africa, Nairobi lies on the Nairobi River in the south of Kenya. Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and surrounding area also form the Nairobi County.

What are the partnership activities and opportunities?
Over the past decade, many Americans of Kenyan decent have made their home in Raleigh and the Triangle. In 2009, Nobel Prize winner and Nairobi resident, Professor Wangari Mathaai spoke to the student and faculty of Meredith College in a tree planting on their campus, symbolizing the lasting importance of environmental stewardship worldwide. In May 2014, Dr. Susan Mboya-Kidero, wife of Nairobi’s Governor, met with Raleigh Sister Cities’ Nairobi Committee to plan educational and performing arts exchanges between our cities. Plans are underway to partner with Mama Africa to produce an Africa culture festival in 2014 and to organize a soccer delegation to play in Raleigh’s European Sister Cities in 2015.

A little more about it…
Nairobi is surrounded by 70 square miles of plains, cliffs, and forest that make up Nairobi National Park. The city’s name comes from the Maasai phrase ‘Enkare Nyrobi’, which translates to “cool water.” The area Nairobi currently occupies was uninhabited swamp until a supply depot of the Uganda Railway was built by the British in 1899 linking Mombasa to Uganda. Nairobi was incorporated in 1900 and in 1905, replaced Mombasa as capital. Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963. In 2013, Nairobi City Council became “Nairobi City County.”

Like Raleigh, Nairobi is home to several institutions of high learning. As Raleigh is hailed for its leadership in sustainability, Nairobi is home of the United Nations’ Environmental Program. Nairobi is renowned in East and Central Africa for its dense tree-cover, plethora of green spaces, and plentiful parks. Nairobi is also the focus of the textile industry in Africa.

“Nairobi is a city full of contrasts. It’s old enough so you can feel its past and multi-ethnic enough so you can experience Kenyan culture, yet it’s modern enough to get Internet access. It’s a city that blends people from all cultures and walks of life.” -The Kenya Information Guide

Contact Information

City of Raleigh Communications Department:
919-996-3100 | email
Raleigh Municipal Building, 3rd Floor, Suite 301

Sister Cities Association of Raleigh:

919-996-4372 | email
1101 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh, NC
Marjorie Salzman, President

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