For 16 years students from Misato, Japan have been visiting Winona, and for the last 11 years, Winona students have been visiting Misato.
Winona Middle School students crowded the gymnasium on Thursday, October 24, to welcome the Japanese Misato students to Winona. Winona ambassadors joined the Misato students on the gymnasium floor for the welcome ceremony.
Katsuo Sasaki, chairperson of the Misato Board of Education, spoke to the audience about the excitement and goals of the trip. “We hope to make many new friends this year,” Sasaki said.
The traditional gift exchange took place between student ambassadors during the Middle School welcoming ceremony. The event continued with both Winona and Misato ambassadors sharing what they are looking forward to most from the trip. Several Winona students indicated they are looking forward to learning about a new culture through firsthand experience, as well as the chance to enjoy a new cuisine. The Misato students expressed excitement about making new friends and enjoying the American culture in Winona.
The Misato students spent the day in school with Winona ambassadors on Friday, October 25, while the adult ambassadors enjoyed the day by visiting museums and shopping. Saturday will include a cultural fair and carnival, and Sunday will be a free day for the Misato visitors to explore the Winona region.
Seventh and eighth grade students were encouraged to participate in the Misato friendship exchange program in future years; chaperons of the Misato students expressed their own excitement spending time in Winona.
Winona students are currently raising money for their trip to Misato, Japan, scheduled for April of 2014.