A group of Castlegar students in front of the Kyoto Imperial Palace last year.

A group of Castlegar students in front of the Kyoto Imperial Palace last year.

Japanese exchange program gearing up for another year

The Castlegar-Embetsu exchange begins preparations for another year of exchange activities with Castlegar’s sister city Embetsu, Japan.

The Castlegar-Embetsu educational exchange committee will be holding an informational meeting next week as they begin preparations for another year of exchange activities with Castlegar’s sister city Embetsu, Japan.

Embetsu is a small town on the northern tip of the island Hokkaido with a population of 3,000 and fishing and agriculture as its main industries.

The program is in its 20th year and involves a student exchange with visits alternating between Castlegar and Embetsu every other year. The goal of the program is to reinforce the relationship of goodwill and understanding between the young people of the two cities.

The student exchange was facilitated by a grant from the Shikano Fund, provided by a Japanese businessman born in Embetsu.

To date, 65 students from Castlegar have visited Embetsu, and 52 Japanese students have visited here. Students act as ambassadors for Castlegar and Canada. The program provides an opportunity for students in Grades 6, 7 or 8 to learn about the customs and cultures of another community.

City officials have even participated in the exchanges. In 2006 Mayor Lawrence Chernoff was part of the delegation and in 2008 an Embetsu delegation of seven including their mayor attended the grand opening of Castlegar’s new city hall.

The meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. at Twin Rivers Elementary School. Plans for the July 2018 trip will be discussed and participants from last year’s trip will share their experiences. Embetsu applications can also be picked up at City Hall after March 1, 2017.