The Castlegar-Embetsu educational exchange committee is gearing up for another year of exchange activities with our sister city Embetsu, Japan. Embetsu is located on the northern tip of the island Hokkaido and has a population of 3,000. Its main industries are fishing and agriculture.
The program is in its 18th year and involves a student exchange with visits alternating between Castlegar and Embetsu every other year. The goal 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, 57 students from Castlegar have visited Embetsu, and 46 Japanese students have visited here. Students must be in Grades 6, 7 or 8 to participate. Students act as ambassadors for Castlegar and Canada. The program provides an opportunity for youth to learn about the customs and cultures of another community.
The exchanges have even progressed to include city officials. In 2006 Mayor Lawrence Chernoff was part of the delegation. In 2008 Castlegar invited Embetsu officials to attend the grand opening of the new city hall. A delegation of seven, including Mayor Kawashima accepted the invitation and joined the celebration.
The committee will be holding an informational meeting Wednesday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at Twin Rivers Elementary School. Plans for the July 2016 trip will be discussed and participants from last year’s trip will share their experiences.