Diplomatic Relations

Kiwanis and Sister Cities Send Six Teens on a Mission to Learn the Virtue of Global Understanding.

Kiwanis International

La Cañada’s representatives to SCI’s youth summit were in the front row, from left: Lenny Pieroni, Luke Stefan and Amr Eissa. Back row: Kelly Steele, Courtney Johnson, and Naomi Stephen.

The fate of the world rested in the hands of Lukos Stefan and other countries’ representatives at a last-hope peace conference in Washington, D.C. Like the other diplomats around him, Stefan had arrived at this meeting as a firm advocate of his nation’s agenda and his personal convictions. Nuclear war was imminent. Compromise was not an option.

Not really.

But that was the scenario of mock peace talks at a Sister Cities International Youth Leadership Summit in D.C. this past July. Stefan and five other California high school students met other teens from around the world on a trip made possible, in part, through a partnership between the newly formed La Cañada Flintridge (LCF) Sister Cities Association and the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada. After hearing a presentation by LCF Sister Cities Association President Victoria Schwartz, Kiwanian Mike Leininger believed the two organizations could and should work together. Sister Cities International is a Kiwanis International Community Partner.

Meeting with U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff.

The teens’ trip included a reception at Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae’s residence, tours of the capital, a meeting with U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff and interacting with other students from around the world. One highlight, Stefan reported, was attending a motivational leadership panel discussion.

“(2016–17) Kiwanis International President Jane Erickson revealed an underlying theme that peaceful international relations begin at a local level with a strong and supportive community,” he says.

At the mock peace conference, as talks foundered, Stefan said the students fought for a solution.

“My mind shifted from personal concern to an appreciation of the new and foreign people surrounding me,” he says.