San Leandro has a rich cultural background, owing much to those who have come to the United States from other nations and have chosen to make San Leandro their home. Often, those cultural influences are enriched with other cities through "Sister City" or "Friendship City" affiliations.
San Leandro has three Sister Cities and one Friendship City. Sister City affiliations have been established with Ribeirao Preto, Brazil (1962); Ponta Delgada in the Azores Islands (1970); and Naga City, Republic of the Philippines (1989). Sister City affiliations are generally established to foster goodwill and cultural exchanges with cities in other nations where a common bond exists. In the case of San Leandro's affiliations, community members originally from the Sister City regions who now live in San Leandro have helped the cities come together in a formal fashion.
In the summer of 2007, the City of San Leandro adopted the city of Yangchun, in the Guangdong Province of China, as its first Friendship City. Members of the San Leandro Asian community requested the alliance be created in part to recognize the substantial growth in the city's Asian population over the years (the Asian community now represents roughly 25 percent of the city's population). A delegation of City and Chamber of Commerce officials made an international visit to Yangchun in the fall of 2007, and a group of Chinese officials visited San Leandro at the end of 2007.
A Friendship City is a type of affiliation that is intended to enhance greater mutual understanding and provide educational, cultural and economic exchange opportunities between cities, although there does not need to be a direct historical connection. Sister City affiliations, on the other hand, often grow out of a direct cultural or historical connection and are typically formed between cities of similar size.
Over the years, San Leandro has extended help in time of need to two of its sister cities - Ribeirao Preto and Naga City. In 1966 San Leandro, in conjunction with the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Society, collected medical supplies and sent them to Brazil to be used by the Social Assistance Service of Ribeirao Preto. Then, in 1995, when Typhoon Angela struck the Philippines, a Naga Relief Project was established. Medical supplies, hospital furniture and some cash donations were collected and sent to Naga City with the help of San Leandro businesses and organizations. Similarly, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area, San Leandro received letters of concern and offers of assistance from its Sister Cities.
One of the most recent projects undertaken involved helping a local group of former Naga residents - the Naga Metropolitan Society - send an ambulance to Naga City. The ambulance was donated by American Medical Response of San Leandro, and both Kindred Hospital and the Eden Medical Center donated medical equipment and hospital supplies to go along with the ambulance.
Over the years San Leandro residents and City officials have made international visits to Brazil, the Azores, the Philippines and China, and these trips have been reciprocated by visits to San Leandro by officials from each of the Sister Cities.
San Leandro City Hall has a Sister Cities Gallery that contains special display cases presenting memorabilia, products and photographs from each City. It is a popular spot for visitors to City Hall, offering them the chance to learn about the many cultures that make San Leandro such a wonderful community.