June 26, 2013 -- Twenty middle and high school students are on a cultural exchange this week in Glens Falls' "sister city," Saga City, Japan. The Sister Cities Student Exchange Program allows students from Glens Falls to spend a week living and learning in Saga City, staying with host families from Josai Middle School and Kita High School.
This quadrennial visit includes special programs and activities, and follows a visit from Saga City students to Glens Falls last March.
“Our students applied and were selected to participate in the program, and to represent our middle and high schools in Saga City,” says GFMS teacher Anne Zilch. “To prepare for the trip, they met weekly with Mrs. Milly Koh of the Sister Cities Exchange Program. She taught them basic phrases in Japanese language, and information about Japanese culture.”
“Having our students' eyes opened to some of the cultural differences, language barriers, and differences in living conditions that exist at the global level will not only benefit them in their own personal development, but will also have a positive impact on us as a community here in Glens Falls,” says Glens Falls Board of Education member Matt Conrick, who taught overseas earlier in his career.
“Our students are entering a world that is truly ‘global’ in every sense of the word,” continued Mr. Conrick. “This generation's world is very different than ours was. Our students are now entering a global workforce, and technological advances are breaking down cultural barriers that have existed for centuries; the ability to work and compete with those from around the world is now an essential skill. Supporting a trip like this one to Saga City clearly falls under what we hope to achieve as educators.”
This year, the Sister Cities Exchange Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary. In April, the mayor of Saga City and his 25-member delegation visited Glens Falls to celebrate the milestone. In March of 2012, twenty Japanese students spent a week in Glens Falls with families from our middle and high schools. The original connection between the two cities was a common interest in hot air balloons.
Above, members of the Sister Cities Student Exchange Program prepare to board the bus for the trip to Kennedy Airport to get their flight to Saga City, Japan on June 24, 2013. Front Row [L to R]: Mrs. Milly Koh (Exchange Coordinator), Mrs. Michele Hogan [Chaperone), Jaquelin Mignot, Cheyenne McQuain, Sarah Deck, Adair Purner, Jacqueline Hogan, Adara Hoyne, Isabelle Topper, Hannah Pettis, Victoria Bullard, Noah Duell. Back Row [L to R]: Mrs. Anne Zilch [Chaperone], Michael Basford, Julian Winston, Emma Conrick, Mayr Sawyer, Hannah Morrissey, Emily Parent, Isabella Winston, Emily Fisher, Aidan Conrick, Ryan Edmunds.