Sister City Exchange 2018 - Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Celebrating 30 years of our middle school delegation program to or American sister city of Colorado Springs, CO and the introduction of a new recipricol high school exchange

2018 was a big year for international relations in Fujiyoshida City. Not only did we celebrate 30 years of our beloved middle school delegation program, but thanks to kind donations made by private citizens toward global education for the young people in our city, we were able to add an additional two members to our delegation for a total of nineteen students, and send an additional group of five high school students abroad to our American sister city of Colorado Springs, CO. Our two cities celebrate 56 years of sister city relations this year.

This year, our two delegations participated in the longest homestay program to date, thanks to several warm and welcoming host families in the Colorado Springs community. The middle school students were paired off and stayed in groups of two with their families for five nights while the high school students stayed alone in the home of a fellow high school student for an additional night.

One defining difference in the two programs is that the high school program has been structured as a recipricol exchange. While we send a group of middle school students to Colorado Springs each year, we rarely host student delegations in return. The high school program, however, will allow us an opportunity to do so, as the high school students who hosted in Colorado Springs this year will come to Fujiyoshida next year and stay with the same student that they hosted. This program is modeled after the TOMODACHI echange program program funded by the US-Japan Council's Tomodachi Initiative -- a recipricol exchange program that spans over two years -- which we were fortunate enough to be a part of in fiscal 2016-2017.

The sister city relationship that we share with Colorado Springs is sustained and nurtured by the personal relationships that our office shares with individual members of the Colorado Springs community, built over years of exchange programs, but also through the hard work and dedication of several supporting organizations. The Japan America Society of Southern Colorado (JASSC) and its president Mr. Robin Lawrentz have been monumental in improving and strengthening our youth-based exchange programs. Professor Joan Ericson who heads the Japanese Language Department and Asian Languages House at Colorado College has been an invaluable source of support over the years. This year in particular, Colorado College opened its campus to our middle school students for a dinner, and our high school students for a campus tour. Colorado Springs Sister Cities International has helped us navigate the bridge between the private and public sector in international relations, and the office of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers has been incredibly gracious with our office of International Affairs. Mayor Suthers has spent his valuable time meeting and attending events with our students each year since he came to office. This year we were also joined by a representative from Japan's Denver Consulate at a potluck gathering hosted by the JASSC. And of course, our programs would not be possible without the kindness of each host family who opened their homes to our students. Their hospitality was by far the most memorable and meaningful part of this exchange for every single student.

This year, as we are every year, we were reminded of the power of grassroots exchange in positively impacting young people by offering opportunities to connect individuals and build relationships. It is one of the greatest things to witness young people coming back from this trip not only inspired to think more globally, pursue international career paths, and rethink their approach to English language learning, but also come home with a renewed sense of gratitude for their home country, their hometown and their families. We are confident that our sister city relationship with Colorado Springs, and the exchanges that we are able to organize with the Colorado Springs community, will continue to impact and empower the youth of city for years to come.


boys at the Royal Gorge Bridge

meeting host families for the first time

dinner and volleyball at Colorado College


pre-departure at Narita

white water rafting with host family

in front of Shove Chapel at Colorado College

on Pikes Peak -- America's mountain


saying tearful goodbyes

Inquiries about contents
Fujiyoshida Office of International Affairs
Address:1842 Shimoyoshida Fujiyoshida-shi Ymanashi