Young artists shine as citizen diplomats

Yukimi Arakida of Japan envisions a more unified and peaceful world. The teenager’s painting referencing that future (above) is one of some 43 works by young “citizen diplomats” from 12 countries who participated in the 2017 Young Artists and Authors Showcase, a competition organized by Sister Cities International.

“Sister Cities International serves an important purpose of renewing and strengthening global relationships,” said Karen Pence, the wife of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Mrs. Pence was recently named the honorary chairwoman of Sister Cities International. In this role, she champions the idea that everyday citizens can advance Sister Cities’ mission to promote world peace “one individual, one community at a time.”

The 2017 contest encouraged artists aged 13 to 18 to submit work inspired by the theme “We’re Going Places.” Here are some of their entries:


Painting of two people walking past pyramids and Eiffel Tower (Sister Cities International)
“Search for Miracles,” by art finalist Racovita Lulia of Ungheni, Moldova. (Sister Cities International)

In her piece, Racovita Lulia of Moldova illustrates her belief that as travelers we are “always looking for the beautiful” in the world.

Sister Cities has been creating citizen diplomats like these young artists since its inception by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. The group partners U.S. cities, counties and states with others worldwide, connecting 2,300 communities.


Painting of people hiking along path leading to solar system (Sister Cities International)
“Exploring Around the Universe,” by Abrefa Kleinheinz, finalist from Kumasi, Ghana. (Sister Cities International)

This year’s topic inspired finalist Abrefa Kleinheinz of Ghana to “depict how people come together and explore around the universe.”

United States

Painting of people and animals with flags up middle (Sister Cities International)
“Road to Peace,” by finalist Seaira Siv of Roanoke, Virginia. (Sister Cities International)

Seaira Siv of the United States painted a “Road to Peace” where travelers, “through small acts of kindness, friendship and taking care of the Earth,” illustrate her vision of the pathway to peace.

Sister Cities announced the 2017 Showcase grand prize winners and finalists in art, poetry, essay and photography categories in July. Their work is now traveling across the U.S. for display in nearly a dozen U.S. cities.

“Most important is how we are all alike,” said Siv, and that’s why “we should continue to strive toward world peace.”