CONNECTING IOWANS TO THE WORLD Community

The Iowa – Yamanashi Sister State relationship has a rich history dating back to 1959.  The first such relationship between the United States and Japan, Iowa and Yamanashi have paved the way for cultural and economic exchanges and played an important role in easing post war tension.  This seemingly unlikely alliance arose on the selflessness and compassion of individuals and continues to be the centerpiece for this relationship.  Nobody better embodies these traits more than current Yamanashi Committee Chair, Chuck Safris.   

After his first trip to Japan in 1974, Mr. Safris was so grateful of the hospitality he felt that upon his return home, he decided to sign up as a homestay for upcoming visitors from Japan.  Uncommon in Iowa at the time, the experience of hosting an exchange student had a profound impact on him and his family.  “Home hosting really had an impact on every aspect of my life,” he said when asked about the experience, “it was significantly important to my entire family as it provided a better sense of cultural understanding.  We made some great contacts along the way and were even invited to Japan by our host child’s family.”

Japan Outreach Initiative Request Form
Interested in holding a presentation or cultural workshop about Japan at your school, organization, or business? Perhaps you'd like some assistance with receiving a delegation from Japan? Alex Akiyama, our Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) Coordinator, is available to help with all of that and more.
Get started by filling out our new JOI Coordinator Request Form. If you have questions, please send Alex an email.

Volunteer Spotlight

What's New?

50 for $50

​​Iowa Sister States needs your help to hit our fall fundraising goal of $2500 to pay a portion of the housing needs for our current Yamanashi student-Ms. Nana Matsui.  Ms. Matsui will attend DMACC for the 2016-2017 academic year.  In Japan, her studies revolve around urban planning.  She is 20 years old and she is so excited to be a part of the Iowa-Yamanashi story.

In order to hit this goal-we are asking 50 people to give $50.  That will pay for half of the cost of her housing.  We will do another fundraising effort in the spring for the other half.

You can
donate online or send in a paper form.

​​​With the recent announcement of our Robert D. Ray Iowa Sister State Service Award winners, we have decided to feature a new installment on our website highlighting ISS volunteers, home hosts, delegates, and partners!  Our volunteers, affiliates, and home hosts work tirelessly to create mutually beneficial relationships with governments and organizations from around the world and we would like to provide further recognition for their selflessness and acts of citizen diplomacy. 

Interested in getting involved with Iowa Sister States? Check out our engagement opportunities!

Yamanashi Prefecture Research Scholarship
Each year, ISS selects a current college student or recent college grad from the state of Iowa (up to age 40) to attend classes and complete a research project of his or her choice at YPU, a public university located in Kofu. Applicants for this scholarship must speak Japanese at a high level and demonstrate an ability to be a positive ambassador for Iowa. The scholarship covers tuition, entrance fees, and accommodation in Yamanashi. The scholarship recipient will be responsible for their own travel and living expenses. 


Start your application here. Applications are due December 15, 2016. For more information, please email Kassi Wheeler or call her at 515-725-3163.

Jeff Zimpleman-Iowa Sister States Scholarship

We are pleased to announce that we have begun accepting applications for the Jeff Zimpleman-Iowa Sister States Scholarship. This is a scholarship that honors the memory of Jeff Zimpleman. It is in memory of his love of traveling and learning by challenging students to study international affairs as well as to attend conferences and symposiums that will help them to make a difference in our broader international community.  Iowa Sister States is proud to partner with the family of Jeff Zimpleman in the creation of this scholarship. 

Click here for more information. Once you're ready, you can apply here.Applications are due in February 2017.

If you have questions, please email
Kassi Wheeler or call her at 515-725-3163.

Meet Chuck Safris!

What we do

Iowa Sister States (ISS) manages Iowa's official relationships with its 9 international partners. One of  the roles of ISS is to promote programs between our sister states and Iowa. These are a wide variety of programs, which can includes topics such as economic trade, professional development, agriculture, education, and many more. We host  a wide variety of delegations and groups from our sister states throughout the year. For more ISS and community events click below!

Support us

First and foremost, THANK YOU to the volunteers and financial supporters who have contributed to ISS programs over the years! We could not do what we do without your generous support of our international programs.





How to Donate

Click the form button below for directions on how to send a monetary donation to Iowa Sister States via check





Click the 'Donate' button below to contribute a monetary gift to Iowa Sister States via PayPal:

Who we are

Iowa Sister States is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization based in Des Moines, Iowa. We strive to build sustainable international partnerships that connect Iowans to the world community. Iowa has a powerful history of citizen diplomacy, and our dedicated volunteers and staff are proud to continue this legacy.

"If only people will get together, then so eventually will nations."


-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower