Features & Columns

San Jose and Dublin celebrate sister city bonds with Lord Mayor's visit

sister cityJERSEY SCORE: San Jose officials, including councilmember Sam Liccardo (right), presented Oisin Quinn, Lord Mayor of Dublin, with an autographed jersey from the San Jose Earthquakes soccer team.

San Jose and Dublin, Ireland, have been sister cities for 28 years now—quite an impressive scenario to say the least. Every year, the Lord Mayor of Dublin brings a delegation of colleagues from government and academia across the pond to the San Jose area for numerous meetings and activities. This year, Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn attended a San Jose Bike Party journey through the streets and even toured TechShop, since one of those fine establishments is expected to open in Dublin some time in the future.

Much more seems in the works between the two cities, so the Anti-Man-About-Town infiltrated a luncheon at City Hall to ingest some updates. At the event, the Lord Mayor hyped up some initiatives unfolding in his city, where he said a program of citywide advertising exists to help promote events and programs. After listening to the skinny on this initiative, I'm guessing it would be the equivalent of having digitally distributed banners emerge on various windows, buildings and public places throughout San Jose—from Blossom Hill Road to Berryessa, from Evergreen to Winchester Boulevard—all to help connect people in disparate parts of the landscape, so they could be more informed as to what festivals are occurring, which marathons are about to unfold or which city-sponsored events are taking place. And in Dublin, tech companies are partnering with the city to help support the infrastructure of this idea. An equivalent might benefit San Jose, especially since the landscape is so sprawled out that many people are unaware of what goes on in the rest of the city outside their own neighborhoods. It would work much better than all those amateur placards inside the buses that nobody even looks at anyway.

Concerning initiatives already in place, there's actually a scholarship exchange program between SJSU and Dublin City University (DCU), supported by Cypress Semiconductor. As of right now, Andrew Kiernan of Dublin, an engineering student, attends SJSU and sets up shop at Cypress as part of his master's curriculum. Of the 2,000-plus sister city relationships established in the U.S., the SJ-Dublin partnership is the only one incorporating a master's-level scholarship exchange program.

So, after the luncheon in the rotunda, a reception unfolded in the engineering building at San Jose State, where the entire delegation watched Kiernan and representatives from DCU, Cypress Semiconductor and the Lord Mayor speak all over again. All of them testified to the importance of travel in one's education. Andrew Wright, a veep at Cypress and an Irishman himself, even broke out the famous St. Augustine quote: "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."

I can testify myself. I began traveling at 25 and never stopped, including a summer study-abroad program in Italy for five weeks that SJSU gave me credit for. It opened up entirely new avenues of creativity.

Now, if there's an engineering scholarship exchange, why shouldn't there be arts and literature exchanges between SJSU and DCU as well? After all, Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature. Well, before I even had a chance to ask that question, it was answered. According to those who spoke at the scholarship reception, a similar academic exchange in the humanities is in the works. It's just a matter of getting the bureaucracies of the two universities to dovetail with one another.

With that, I can already think of several other ways to enhance the San Jose-Dublin relationship. Downtown San Jose has a rock & roll bar, the Blank Club, owned by an O'Brien, so there should be a sister rock club in Dublin somewhere. The neighborhood also has a great tea shop that should be twinned with its equivalent in Dublin. I can go on and on. Also, right there in the City Hall rotunda, locals gave an autographed San Jose Earthquakes jersey to the Lord Mayor, with which he posed for a picture. I can't think of anything more appropriate than a sister club in Dublin somewhere. Doesn't even have to be first division. Whichever club makes the most sense. I mean, international punk rock, tea and soccer relationships are elements no other sister city in the U.S. has going right now. That would make San Jose a much more interesting place. Silicon Valley would lead the world again.