Sister City Association Offers Social, Cultural Relations with a Mexican Town

In 1984, the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association (PTSCA) was established to promote friendship and understanding between the peoples of Pleasanton and Tulancingo, Hidalgo, Mexico. The citizens of both communities have engaged in exchange programs for students and its members for nearly 25 years. Since that time, much more has developed between the two towns: lasting friendships and an extended family for Pleasanton's 130 association members.

"I've traveled to Tulancingo every year since becoming a member 12 years ago," explained exiting President Ron Hyde. "The people of Tulancingo are a wonderfully caring and sharing people. Whenever we arrive, we get more hugs and kisses in the first 24 hours than you would get in a year at home."

PTSCA co-founder Bob Athenour, also known as Senor Bob, echoes Hyde's sentiments. "It's been a tremendous experience over the years. What we've done is brought two cultures together and torn down barriers and stereotypes about each other. The result has been one big family."

In 1982, Athenour, a former Spanish teacher at Amador Valley High School, approached fellow co-founder Steve Noble with the idea of creating a sister city association for Pleasanton with a town in Mexico. Through a long-time friend of Athenour's in Mexico City, Tulancingo was suggested. Athenour proceeded to discuss the sister city idea with Tulancingo's Chamber of Commerce president. With strong support from Pleasanton's Mayor Bob Butler and Tulancingo's Mayor Eric Saucedo, the Pleasanton City Council signed a proclamation on March 13, 1984, official making Tulancingo Pleasanton's Sister City. Tulancingo, is located 60 miles northeast of Mexico City, at an elevation of 7,000 feet, surrounded by mountains.

"The association has had over 100 student ambassadors (through the student exchange program) between the two cities," explained Hyde. "We have students from Tulancingo here now during July for several weeks living with our members' families. Then, the Pleasanton students will go to Tulancingo for a few weeks."

Each year, five students are selected from Pleasanton's high schools for the exchange program. Many alumni from the program visit the high schools to talk about the program's benefits. "Many of our students have gone on to study international relations as a result of PTSCA's exchange programs," added Hyde.

PTSCA is also involved in many charitable projects for Tulancingo, Athenour explained. "In 1999, following a huge flood, we worked with Pleasanton's Rotary clubs to raise money to repair a damaged school. We supplied new books, computers and supplies." Other projects have provided gifts to children in a local orphanage, soccer uniforms, and wheelchairs.

To raise money for these projects, the association hosts an annual barbeque that includes musical entertainment, dancing, live and silent auctions. This year's event will be Saturday, August 11, from 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Tickets may be purchased in advance by mailing checks to PTSCA, P.O. Box 5283, Pleasanton, CA 94566. For event or ticket information, contact Kent Pryor at (925) 462-5786.

If you are looking for a unique cultural exchange experience, PTSCA is always looking for new members. Contact Bob Athenour at (925) 846-2966, or email .

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