Delray Beach students travel to Japan for Sister Cities exchange

After a year of immersion in Japanese language and culture, seven Delray Beach students will experience the real thing beginning Saturday: An intensive week of travel, home stays and new friendships in Miyazu, Delray Beach‘s Sister City since 1977.

The students, who attend American Heritage and Atlantic high schools, have been learning Japanese from Tony Durante, a Delray Beach pastor who served as a missionary in Hokkaido, Japan, and met his wife there as he taught English in the 1990s. Once a week, students have been studying with Durante, learning about life in the island nation, and also learning how to share details about life in Delray Beach with their Japanese hosts.

“We hope to create lasting friendships and bring back the fruits of that goodwill,” said Durante, outreach pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, who will be a chaperon with Nancy King, a retired Delray Beach city employee and Sister Cities board member.

Durante described Miyazu as a “welcoming, small, seaside town,” famous for a 3.6-kilometer sandbar filled with pine trees.

Delray Beach has two Sister Cities, Miyazu and Moshi, Tanzania, through Sister Cities International, a nonprofit created by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 that promotes international relationships. According to its website, 600 American cities are paired with cities around the world, creating 2,000 relationships.

The trip, which includes a visit to Kyoto, will cost about $24,000, mostly paid for by Sister Cities, said David Schmidt, president of Sister Cities of Delray Beach. Families kicked in $300 for their students as well as spending money, he said.

Schmidt, former mayor of Delray Beach, said follow-ups with the almost 50 students who have visited Miyazu over the years showed several have continued their Japanese language studies or pursued international professions. Students from Miyazu have also visited Delray Beach, as has a delegation from Tanzania.

The visitors from Tanzania, seeking to learn about sanitary methods of collecting trash, met with city officials last year, toured the Solid Waste Authority and learned about recycling and sustainable collection practices.

Delray Beach cultural officials, who visited Moshi in 2012 and are seeking a grant to visit Miyazu this year, hope to organize a cultural festival in Delray Beach to celebrate the three cities in 2015, Schmidt said.

The trip will fulfill a dream for student Luna Jean, who fell in love with Japan when she was a 6-year-old eating at a Japanese restaurant in her native Haiti.

“There was something about the atmosphere and the language,” said Jean, 16, who came to the United States at 12 and now attends Atlantic.

In the years after her restaurant visit, she watched Japanese anime movies and asked Japanese friends to teach her words and phrases. As the trip approached, she memorized detailed etiquette points, such as bowing to an elder.

“You have to bow lower than them, and I’m 5’9”,” Jean said. “I like the way adolescents there are more respectful and focused on the future.”

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japanese language – Yahoo News Search Results
japanese language – Yahoo News Search Results

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