Sister Cities hosts Japanese students for 2nd annual visit

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 08:36 AM

The Toyama City Committee of Sister Cities recently welcomed students from the College of Foreign Languages in Toyama, Japan, for a two-and-a-half-week study visit for their second annual visit to Durham.

The Toyama committee partnered with Durham Technical Community College in hosting the 20 students and two faculty members. 

Planning for this year’s program began long before the arrival date, with Sister Cities members and other volunteers providing leadership.  Satsuki Scoville organized the 16 host families and their orientation session.  Scoville, Richard Hill, Chris Boyer and Donna Maskill led tours of downtown Durham, the Duke University East Campus, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and DPAC.  Joe Gary and Jim Force provided additional logistical support. 

Mavis Mayer and Mayumi Takasu organized the farewell party hosted at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, where the students expressed their gratitude to their host families and provided a musical program.  Japanese student Ayako Miwa shared, “We had a great time with the Durham host families and appreciated so much being included in the daily activities and family life of our hosts.”  

Many host families also hosted some of last year’s students.  The students also enjoyed a day-long trip to Raleigh where they toured state museums and the Farmer’s Market.  They concluded their trip with two days in Washington, D.C., before flying back to Japan.

A highlight of the farewell party was the presentation of the Durham Mayor’s Award to individuals for “Promoting International Understanding.” This award was presented on behalf of the mayor by Sister Cities board member B. C. Dash to Toyama faculty member Susan Urakami.  She has worked in the language program at TCFL for more than 20 years and was instrumental in bringing the program to Durham in 2013 and 2014.  Urakami commented that “this study program is invaluable for the students as they seek to better understand both language and culture.”

Additional support for the program was provided by two groups in the Durham area.  First was the Center for the Global Learner at Durham Tech where David Kittrell, the coordinator of the English as a Second Language program, worked closely with the Toyama committee on this visit.  He organized the schedule for the language classes and the afternoon activities.  A highlight was a visit from the journalism class at Riverside High School that interviewed the Japanese visitors for their student newspaper, the Pirates’ Hook.  DTCC held a farewell luncheon for the students where they received certificates for their course of study.

Our second support group was the RDU Airport Authority.  Teresa Damiano and Warren Creech of the RDU staff again provided excellent cooperation when the students arrived, providing a reception area where we could welcome our visitors and pair them with their host families.

Mavis Mayer, co-chair of the Toyama City Committee of Sister Cities, said she “expresses appreciation for all the volunteers and organizations who provided the support to make this a great event promoting better international understanding in the Durham area.” 

Susan Urakimi, the TCFL faculty leader stated, “We are definitely coming back to Durham in 2015.  Durham is such a welcoming community.”