Sequim Gazette staff
Young students are hoping a little of the proverbial elbow grease will help pay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A small cadre of Sequim youths entering their freshman year next fall were busy weeding and spreading bark last week at the Sequim Water Reuse Garden by Carrie Blake Park as part of their fundraising efforts to pay for a visit to Sequim’s Sister City in Japan.
In October, 10 soon-to-be ninth-grade students, along with chaperones, plan to travel to Sequim’s Sister City of Shiso, Japan, as community ambassadors seeking to learn about and experience Shiso culture, live with a host family and see world heritage sites while representing the community.
Taking part in the Sequim Shiso Sister City Student Educational Exchange Program costs each student about $2,400 for a nine-day trip that takes them to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Shiso.
This year’s student ambassadors — Nathaniel Edge, Ozzy Kramer, Erin Gordon, Kaitlyn Viada, Richard Hall, Brenden Jack, Nick Kingsley, Jazen Bartee, Jade Webb and Gabby Dingman — are working odd jobs, holding garage sales and other fundraisers, and are now asking community members and businesses if they can help their effort.
Contributions to the Ambassador program via the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce are tax deductible. Call Annette Hanson, Sister City Association member, at 670-6774 or the Chamber of Commerce at 683-6197 for details, or mail a contribution to the chamber at: P.O. Box 907, Sequim, WA 98382, marked for “Ambassador Program.”
Program organizers say the City of Sequim and Sequim School District are not able to offer financial help, but cooperate with the program as it benefits both entities.
Now in its 22nd year, the program grew from the Sister City relationship between Sequim and Shiso. The all-volunteer Sequim-Shiso Sister City Association members group coordinates the program under the auspices of the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce. The program is a short-term student exchange that promotes friendship and mutual understanding between students of Sequim and Shiso City and its residents.
Students from Shiso come to Sequim in September and stay in the homes of the Sequim student ambassadors. A month later, Sequim student ambassadors travel to Shiso and stay with the families of the students who came to Sequim.
Other exchange purposes involve teaching Sequim students about Japanese culture, history, and language through first-hand experiences; broadening the student perspective of international relations; planning, preparing and participating in international travel; and sharing experiences with family, classmates, teachers and the community.
During the trip, the Sequim delegation of students and adults spend four full days in Shiso and the rest of their cultural experience between Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Himeji, visiting historical and world-class heritage sites, temples, museums and centers—traveling by bullet train, bus and subway.
Upon their return from Japan, students share with individuals and groups who helped sponsor them about their experience. They also plan to recognize their sponsors through other displays, media and public talks in the community before and after the trip.