The city bid farewell last Thursday to this year’s group of exchange students from our Sister City of Takasaki, Japan, after a 10-day visit to Battle Creek.
The exchange program between the two cities began in 1981. Four high school students from each city spend 10 days in the other, living with host families and experiencing activities and culture in Takasaki and elsewhere in Japan, and in Battle Creek and elsewhere in Michigan.
The high school delegation from Battle Creek this year was teachers Adam Chamberlin (Endeavor Charter Academy) and Kevin Culp (Lakeview); and students Lillian Brandt (Harper Creek), Patrick Carattini (Lakeview), Niani Johnson (Battle Creek Central) and Cassidy Stevens (Pennfield).
The application, interview and selection process takes place in the spring and culture and travel preparations – like learning to use chopsticks, language training and advice on what to pack – take place leading up to the exchange, which begins in late July.
“This program really becomes life-changing for the students and the teachers, and they look back in amazement over the journey they have been on for these 20 days, with all they have seen and learned,” said Assistant Human Resources Manager Jennifer Rosa, who helps facilitate the program. “We are so thrilled to be able to provide this amazing opportunity to our local students in Battle Creek.”
While in Japan, local students traveled to Tokyo, the nation’s capital, participated in a traditional summer festival and parade, and painted Daruma dolls. Takasaki is home to the traditional dolls, modeled after a Buddhist monk and a symbol of good luck.
While in Battle Creek, Takasaki delegates visited Willard Beach, Flash Flood Water Park, the Binder Park Zoo, and also enjoyed other local recreation activities and eateries. They also traveled to Saugatuck, South Haven and Grand Rapids for day trips filled with team-building activities, Lake Michigan sight-seeing and more.
The Takasaki high school delegation was teacher Masaki Toyama and students Takako Sekiguchi, Chika Tomizawa, Momo Kimura and Mana Nishioka.