The International Relations Council, Mt. Pleasant Area, also known as the IRC, is derived from the “People to People” concept of the 1960’s. The idea of world peace and direct contact between different cultures worldwide was the dream of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Hall family of the Hallmark Card fame. The National League of Cities and the U.S. Department of State adopted this dream thereby encouraging cities like the City of Mt. Pleasant to establish direct Sister City relationships with communities in other parts of the world.
The City of Mt. Pleasant took an early interest in pursuing the “People
to People” concept and established Sister City relationships with Okaya, Japan and Valdivia, Chile. Those cities were chosen as the result of the encouragement of two influential visitors. Mr. Tadashi Satsuma from Okaya and Mr. Ferdinand Richards, a CMU student
from Chile, strongly urged the City of Mt. Pleasant to establish the connection with their home towns. And, so it was. Both Valdivia and Okaya have similarities to Mt. Pleasant in that they are both semi-rural and both have the same great respect for international good will and world peace.
In 1989 the City of Mt. Pleasant and Middle Michigan Development Corporation stepped to the plate to further foster international relationships. It was at that time that the Mt. Pleasant Area International Relations Committee was created to promote the Sister City relationships and to support international programs
at CMU, Mt. Pleasant High School, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, and 4-H.
In 2006, the committee changed its name to International Relations Council Mt. Pleasant Area. In 2012, the Council reorganized to focus primarily on the Sister City relationship with Okaya, Japan. New by-laws were adopted allowing the Council to operate more efficiently while continuing to foster goodwill among the international communities in the Mt. Pleasant area.
In 2014 the Council, as well as a Sister City Taskforce appointed
by our City Commission, hosted a group of delegates from Okaya including Mayor Shinichiro Hiyashi, numerous city officials and other citizens of Okaya. Numerous activities were planned to share our community with them and to commemorate this long-standing relationship. In August 2015 an adult delegation from Mt. Pleasant traveled to Okaya to celebrate in similar fashion and presented a sculpture from our city to theirs that was placed in Friendship Park, a park in Okaya dedicated to our special relationship as sister cities (much like our very own Nelson Park with its Okaya dori).
This summer (2017) Okaya, Japan will be sending a delegation of students here to Mt. Pleasant, MI to continue building lasting friendships and strengthen our Sister City relations.