Did you know that Blacksburg has a sister city? We do! In April 1989 Blacksburg Town Council designated San José de Bocay, in the coffee country of Nicaragua's northern mountains, as our official sister city.
Blacksburg’s relationship with San José de Bocay is sustained through the Blacksburg-Bocay Sister City Committee, a local volunteer organization. The Sister City program is a project of the Coalition for Justice, a nonprofit Blacksburg organization.
Since the 1990s, the Sister City Committee has raised donations for Bocay from Blacksburg area residents to support many of today’s Bocay school teachers’ college educations. Earlier donations raised by the Committee helped build San José de Bocay’s elementary school.
After several years without Blacksburg visits to San José de Bocay, the Sister City Committee organized a delegation for January 2009. There has been an annual January visit each year since then – a key part of maintaining this relationship.
The Portland Oregon-based NGO Green Empowerment, with staff permanently based in Nicaragua, makes all in-country arrangements and sends staff along to help manage the trip and provide translation. Virginia Tech and New River Community College students have played essential roles in these service trips.
The Clark Webb Sister City Delegation traveled to Bocay in January 2016. Upates on that trip are coming to our Facebook page. If you may be interested in participating in the January 2017 delegation or would like to have information about it to share with others, please contact us at the email address below.
The Sister City Committee collects tax-deductible donations to further Blacksburg's relationship with San José de Bocay, including the Derek Myers Scholarship fund named in memory of a Blacksburg Town Council member who participated in the 2009 delegation. The Myers Scholarship helps pay for Bocay school teachers to attend college to earn their degrees. Two new scholarship recipients are starting their university degrees soon, and will need your donations.
Checks for donations to the Derek Myers Scholarship fund should be made to "Coalition for Justice" and mailed to:
Sister City Committee
c/o Coalition for Justice
PO Box 299
Blacksburg, VA 24063
Please include a note on your check designating the donation for the Myers Scholarship.
The Coalition for Justice, a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization, administers all Sister City Committee funds.
Service projects carried out on the annual trip are decided by Bocay's own sister city committee. Blacksburg visitors and Bocay residents work alongside each other on these projects, under the supervision of folks from Bocay.
In 2016, our delegation worked with Bocay residents in a reforestation project and (as we also did in 2015) to repaint one of the primary school buildings. From 2011 to 2015, the major project during annual visits was building fuel-efficient wood stoves for town residents – an effort now taken up by a local business. Nicaraguan NGOs designed these stoves to use half the firewood of conventional local stoves, helping to reduce deforestation and erosion of surrounding mountain slopes, lower household costs, and minimize health hazards from smoke inside houses.
Bocay-Blacksburg teams have also painted several murals around Bocay.