RIVERBANK — It was October of 2006 when Julio César Pérez visited the city of Riverbank for the first time to start the process of building a sister city project with his native Tamazula de Gordiano, Jalisco, México.
Officials in both cities formally shook hands and just a few weeks ago, 12 delegates from the Mexican city, including Pérez, visited Riverbank for two weeks to get to know firsthand what the city offers in terms of action as well as its surroundings.
"We in Tamazula have a great admiration for the North American town because they are people who have set an example that with hard work and dedication you can build a great nation," said Julio César Ruiz González, Mayor of Tamazula de Gordiano, during the Riverbank City council meeting Oct. 13. "We see it as an honor that Riverbank has accepted us as a sister city. I can tell you that when their delegation went to Tamazula there was an instant connection."
Ruiz González was talking about the group of officials who traveled in September 2007 to the Mexican city whose largest industry is sugar cane, to officially sign the proclamation that would start the sister cities project.
During the council meeting Chris Crifasi, Riverbank’s judge, gave the group a certificate and a few words. "I hope you have a wonderful time in our city and thank you for your hospitality to our people when they visited Tamazula. I hope to return the favor," said Crifasi.
Ruiz González didn’t stop smiling, "In just a short while we felt a strong love for all of you and we thank you for your consideration. We’ve had a great time these past few days."
The group from Tamazula de Gordiano also brought gifts for Riverbank: a painting that represents the new sister cities project and an exact copy of the flag of Tamazula de Gordiano.
"We’ve come to know many things about you. You’re a great city, full of hard work and I feel we’re going to learn a lot from you and we hope to share our culture with you," said Ruiz González. "In Tamazula we await you with open arms."
According to the mayor, one of the benefits of this project between Riverbank and Tamazula is that it has made possible an opportunity for an exchange of education.
"At this moment the committee is working on ideas for an exchange, whether it be students or teachers, to study or to perfect their English or Spanish. But I believe there will be much more because of the quality of this relationship, we hope to share many things," said Ruiz González. "The act of getting to know, for us as a government, another way of administration, another way to work, it helps us greatly to be able to implement those experiences over there in our country and it gives us a different picture of the future we want for our Tamazula."
Some of the places the Mexican group visited included San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, downtown Modesto, the Gallo Center for the Arts, and the Riverbank Cheese and Wine Exposition. Also they visited farms, schools, the new Crossroads shopping center, El Concilio, Modesto Junior College, UC Merced and the Oak Valley Hospital.
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