Before stepping on international soil this fall, some local teens did a good job representing their community and country in their hometown.
Incoming ninth graders with the Sequim-Shiso City Sister Association Student Exchange continued the group’s tradition of cleaning one of Sequim’s parks through a “Park-A-Thon.”
Annette Hanson, volunteer coordinator, said the event serves as the group’s main fundraiser for students as they seek donations during their service to go towards the trip to Sequim’s sister city Shiso City, Japan.
The 10 participating students had the option to pull weeds in a softball field in Carrie Blake Community Park on July 10 or paint obstacles in the Sequim Dog Park on July 17.
Students must put in a minimum of four hours between the events, but some plan to do both.
Some previous projects included spreading bark on a trail and cleaning a path for a future parking lot.
As tradition, Sequim students will go to Japan the second week of October for 10 days where they’ll experience Japan including four days with a host family.
Hanson said they’ll also spend two nights in Tokyo, ride a bullet train and see much more.
Jennifer Imholt, lead parent chaperone, lived in Hiroshima for four years teaching at the Hiroshima International School from 1999-2003, but she hasn’t been back to Japan since then.
Imholt said the exchange is a great opportunity for Sequim children like her son Jackson to see more of the world and experience other cultures.
Shiso City sends its group of ninth grade students to Sequim the third week of September.
For the trip, students each need a minimum of $2,300 for travel expenses. Many students plan to do individual fundraisers, such as bake sales, doing odd jobs, selling popcorn, and more.
Hanson said this year, more students applied for the trip than ever before.
Each spring, students are told about the experience followed by an information session featuring previous student ambassadors speaking about the trip.
Organizers screen applications, which Hanson said requires high standards because each student “represents our city, state and country.”
This year’s participants include Danika Chen, Ruby Coulson, Ayden Humphries, Jackson Imolt, Calem Klinger, Julia Jack, Kari Olson, Anastasia Updike, Karlie Viada, and Angel Wagner along with chaperones Jennifer Imholt, Jon Jack and Vicki Kingsolver.
Donations can made out to “JASSW” or “Japan-America Society of the State of Washington” and sent to the “Sequim Sister City Association, care of City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St., Sequim, WA, 98382.” The Shiso City program falls under the umbrella of the JASSW and all donations will be split equally among the 10 students.
For more information, contact Sequimsistercityassn@gmail.com, or Annette Hanson at email@example.com or (360) 670-6774.