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.
Southlake Sister Cities welcomes students from Tome, Japan to Southlake March 20-24, 2014. As part of the the Sister Cities agreement Southlake has with Tome, a trip to each city is organized once a year to provide cultural exchange opportunities for Tome and Southlake students. For over two decades, the exchange program offered through Southlake Sister Cities has developed strong bonds between the two cities.
While in Southlake, the Japanese students will stay with host families and experience American culture first-hand. The students will create life-long friendships with their families as they enjoy home-cooked meals and participate in family traditions. Many host families will also take their exchange student around the Metroplex to explore some of DFW’s most famous attractions.
Southlake Sister Cities has also planned many group activities for the delegation to ensure a fun and educational experience. On Friday, the students will take a tour of Southlake. The tour includes: Central Market, several Carroll ISD schools and City of Southlake facilities. On Saturday evening, a “Students Only Party” will be held at one of the host family’s homes to allow students from both countries an opportunity to mingle and learn more about one another. A farewell potluck party will be held in Town Hall Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. to wrap up their trip.
In June, a delegation of Southlake students will travel to Tome to experience life in the Far East. In addition to experiencing Japanese culture, customs and cuisine first-hand, the host families escort the youth ambassadors to many places in Tome, known for its samurai history, as well as scenic Matsushima.
Southlake Sister Cities (SSC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering global understanding, friendship and communication through education and exchanges. Membership is open to individuals, youth, families, non-profit/civic organizations, for profit businesses and patrons.
For more information about Southlake Sister Cities or how to become involved in upcoming exchange programs, please visit www.SouthlakeSisterCities.org or contact the Southlake Community Services Department at (817) 748-8019.
As the saying goes, friendship knows no distance. This is certainly the case for Southlake and Suzhou Wuzhong District, China. Although thousands of miles and an ocean apart, the two cities signed a Friendship City agreement in November 2010 to develop a reciprocal relationship and promote cultural exchanges. Operating under the same guidelines as the Sister City relationships Southlake has with Tome in Japan and El Fuerte in Mexico, the term Friendship City is used in China.
Suzhou, Wuzhong, China
As part of the Friendship City agreement, the first Southlake youth ambassador exchange trip is planned March 6-14, 2014, during Carroll ISD’s Spring Break. A life changing event, students and chaperones are paired with Wuzhong host families during their stay to experience first-hand the Chinese culture. In addition, a well-planned itinerary combines historical, educational, and cultural activities:
The approximate cost of the trip is $2,500 per person (including airfare). Applications are available online, in the Southlake Public Library, or the Community Services Department and must be submitted by December 2, 2013. To qualify as a youth ambassador, students must be a resident of Southlake or current member of Southlake Sister Cities; between 15-18 years of age (at the time trip begins); submit a recommendation from a teacher or counselor; and attend mandatory orientation(s) prior to the trip.
According to Stacey Wojnicki, the City’s staff liaison to Southlake Sister Cities, being a youth ambassador means representing Southlake and the United States. “Being a youth ambassador to another country is a huge honor. We want to instill in the kids that they are representing their school, community and country,” she said.
Plans for the youth ambassador trip have been in the works for awhile. An adult delegation, including previous Southlake City Council Member Jeff Wang, who is also president of Southlake Sister Cities, visited the Wuzhong District of Suzhou, China in November 2011 and October 2013 to speak with local government and school officials about youth delegations visiting both countries. The hope is to make these trips an annual occurrence.
Suzhou, which has a population of more than six million, is a cultural city with a history spanning 2,500 years. It is located at the entrance of the Yangtze River Delta in China. With a network of rivers and canals as well as fertile land, the city is rich in a variety of agricultural products. Suzhou has been referred to as the “City of Gardens,” “Land of Fish and Rice,” “Silk Capital” and “Paradise on Earth.” Aside from its beauty, Suzhou is also an economic powerhouse— ranked first for contracted foreign capital and fourth in total import/export volume in China. Wuzhong District (pop. 600,000) enjoys a history of well developed culture, picturesque landscape and is the cradle land of ancient Wu Culture.
Southlake Sister Cities is also accepting applications for its annual youth delegation trip to Tome, Japan, which has been a Sister City since 1991. Each summer, a group of Southlake students and chaperone(s) head to the Far East for a once-in-a-lifetime Japanese experience. After arriving in Tokyo and then a bullet train ride to Tome, they are paired with host families for their week-long stay. In addition to experiencing Japanese culture, customs and cuisine first-hand, the host families escort the youth ambassadors to many places in Tome, known for its samurai history, as well as scenic Matsushima.
Tome is located in the northeast part of the Miyagi Prefecture with a population of approximately 91,905 residents. Tome was originally a district that consisted of eight towns, including Southlake’s original Sister City, Toyoma. In April 2005, the towns merged with the town of Tsuyama, formerly of the Motoyoshi District, to form the new city of Tome. The annual Southlake youth ambassador exchange trip to Tome, Japan is planned for June 9-16, 2014. Applications are available online and are due by January 31, 2014. More information coming soon!
Southlake Sister Cities (SSC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering global understanding, friendship and communication through education and exchanges. Membership is open to individuals, youth, families, non-profit/civic organizations, for profit businesses, and patrons.