This past week, the City of Southlake and Southlake Sister Cities were happy to welcome eleven delegates (nine students and two chaperons) from Southlake’s Sister City, Tome, Japan for a cultural exchange visit. The delegation landed Thursday, March 19 and departed early in the morning on Monday, March 23, 2015.
Southlake Sister Cities has facilitated the exchange program for over 20 years, a program that is made possible by the Southlake families who open their homes to host the students. Throughout the homestay, families plan a wide-variety of American experiences. Some of the events that students were able to enjoy this time included; a Baylor University football scrimmage, playing tag at Main Event, seeing the Longhorns at the Fort Worth Stockyards, visiting the JFK Museum and of course – stocking up on souvenirs at the mall. Many students expressed they were most surprised by the food – “big hamburgers” and “delicious pizza!” Host families enjoyed learning about the Japanese culture and the visiting students demonstrated a traditional tea ceremony and explained the sport of Kendo.
Southlake Sister Cities also led the delegation on a tour of the City of Southlake, beginning with breakfast and a tour at Central Market. They spent the morning and afternoon visiting Johnson Elementary and Carroll High School. After visiting the schools, they toured Southlake Town Hall and met with Assistant City Manager, Ben Thatcher. Tome City representative, Yoichi Sasaki presented an invitation to the City of Southlake for an official celebration hosted in Tome recognizing the 10th anniversary of the City of Southlake and City of Tome, Sister City relationship. Councilmember Randy Williamson, Councilmember Brandon Bledsoe, and Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher will represent the City of Southlake and attend the ceremony in June, 2015.
The delegation’s Southlake tour ended with a visit to the DPS North Station where Range Master Mike Bedrich showed the students the firing range and they also learned about the fire department and even tried on some fire gear!
The exchange trip concluded with a Potluck Sayonara Party on Sunday, March 22nd hosted at Southlake Town Hall. The students enjoyed a variety of American dishes, shared their favorite memories from the trip and were presented with cowboy hats.
The delegation began their journey back to Tome on the morning of Monday, March 23 – stopping for a day in San Francisco before completing their trip – they are schedule to arrive back inTome on March 26th.
The Southlake Sister Cities program partners with the City of Southlake to offer exchange trips for both students and adults between Sister Cities Tome, Japan and Suzhou Wuzhong, China. For more information about Sister Cities and the exchange programs, please visit: www.southlakesistercities.org.