Winona area students in eighth, ninth and 10th grade who would like to apply to be an ambassador to sister city, Misato, Japan, are invited to an informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. on August 20 at the Winona Middle School auditorium.
Information about the application process and trip information will be presented. Phase 1 of the application process — a questionnaire — takes place the following two days.
Phase 1 sessions take place in the WMS media center.
To apply to be an ambassador, plan to attend one Phase I session:
• August 21 at 9 a.m.
• August 21 at 11 a.m.
• August 22 at 11 p.m.
• August 22 at 1 p.m.
If you have questions, contact Joe Lepley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Misato is a small city in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture. Misato and Winona formed their sister-city relationship in 1997. The first year that Winona sent students to Misato was 2003 when 10 eighth-grade students and 10 chaperones made the trip. Currently, 25 eighth-, ninth-, and 10th-grade students participate each year. About 600 Winona students and adults have now visited Misato.
Winona ambassadors also have the opportunity to host Misato ambassadors in their homes. Generally, the Misato delegation visits Winona around October, and the Winona delegation visits Misato around April.
Mayor Mark Peterson said that his trip to Japan was life-changing. “I think that I’m a little more open-minded about another culture that’s different than mine,” he said. In addition to the food and sights that he experienced in Japan, Mayor Peterson said that the relationships that he made with the people of Japan are what stand out.
Hiroaki Kamata is a chairman of the Misato International Friendship Association (MIFA). Kamata believes that “mutual understanding, friendship, and peace” are gained by the relationship. All of the citizens of Misato who have participated in the exchange have “touched a different culture, met with many friends, spread the world’s perspective, and have a positive impact on life,” Kamata said.
“I think [the relationship is] as strong as it’s ever been,” Mayor Peterson said. Two cities, almost 6,000 miles apart, in different countries, cultures, and ways of life, have managed to form a strong relationship in a way that people have a lot to learn from. The basis of the relationship was never business, money, commerce, or trade. It was simply for people to make connections on personal levels and have life-changing and perspective-broadening experiences through the friendships they made.