Zachary Blair-Andrews, 2017 Student Ambassador to Takamatsu, has created a wonderful video showcasing his experiences in our Japanese sister city. Enjoy!
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (July 18, 2017) - While three St. Petersburg high school students return from visiting Takamatsu, Japan, St. Petersburg's Sister City, three high school students from Takamatsu will spend 10 days visiting the Sunshine City beginning July 24. The Takamatsu student ambassadors, Miho Samitsu, Misaki Nishizaka, and Motoki Hase, will live with host families during their stay, visiting local attractions and sharing their culture with the community.
The students will meet Mayor Rick Kriseman and make presentations about Takamatsu to members of the International Relations Committee at City Hall on July 25; at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce on July 28; and during an August 1 farewell reception hosted by the St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society, Inc. (SPIFFS). The farewell reception, which will feature SPIFFS performing groups and samples of ethnic food delicacies, will take place at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. The public is invited to attend all community presentations. Other private activities include a Rays home game, a beach day, shuffleboard, and visits to The Dali, the Museum of History, Sunken Gardens, and a walking mural tour.
St. Petersburg's student ambassadors, Zachary Blair-Andrews, Chloe Johnson, and Deaja "Jenae" Henry, recently returned home after spending 10 days sharing American culture with their host families and Takamatsu city leaders, and sightseeing. They will make a presentation about their stay during a future City Council meeting.
For additional information about the Student Ambassador and Sister Cities exchange program, visit www.stpete.org/internationalrelations or contact Lotta Baumann, St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society, Inc., (SPIFFS) Executive Director, at 727-552-1896 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 4, 2017...The City of St. Petersburg International Relations Committee proudly announces the selection of the 2017 Student Ambassadors to Takamatsu, St. Petersburg’s Japanese Sister City.
Three students were chosen from a number of outstanding applicants. They are Zachary Ethan Blair-Andrews of Lakewood High School, Chloe Johnson of St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, and Deaja Jenae Henry, also of St. Petersburg Collegiate High School. They will be representing St. Petersburg in Japan from July 5 to 14. An extensive program is planned for their stay there, with a several opportunities to speak to the community about their home town.
Later in July St. Petersburg will be hosting three Student Ambassadors from Takamatsu. They will be staying with local families and will share information about their home town with our community. Several programs are being planned to which the general public will be invited.
For more information abut the Student Ambassador program and how to get involved in the Sister Cities programs, please contact Lotta Baumann, SPIFFS Executive Director, at 727-552-1896 or email@example.com.
By VANESSA B. NGUYEN
2016 Student Ambassador, St. Petersburg, FL
How do I begin this without sounding cliché? It’s the last thing I want to do, sound unextraordinary when describing my experience in Takamatsu, Japan, a well-hidden, extraordinary gem. If I absolutely had to describe my experience in such a charming city with a single word, I would have to absolutely say “ineffable.” Ironic, isn’t it?
It was a short ten days in Takamatsu, but a couple of minutes was all it took for me to fall in love with St. Petersburg's Sister City. Upon arrival, my fellow student ambassador and I were welcomed by city officials and our host families, who were kind enough to open their hearts and home to us. As my host mom drove me to her home, my eyes and mind could not focus on one specific thing. It was as if a rush of culture had passed over me like an aggressive wave, beating and breaking down all the preconceived images and notions I had about Japan.
The following days were filled with sightseeing and activities that allowed for us to gain partial information on the rich history and culture Takamatsu and furthermore, Japan, holds. From visiting the Kikuchi Kan Memorial Museum, to learning to make the legendary Sanuki udon, to paying our respects at Hiroshima and reflecting on the past; I could never sum up everything in those short ten days without having to write essentially an entire book about it.
If I had to choose only one aspect that I appreciated and would forever be imprinted into my memories, it's the smells. I can still remember how downtown Takamatsu smelled like after some light rain at around 8 p.m., the freshness of air at the high spot overlooking Ritsurin Garden, the simple udon dough made from flour and fresh saltwater.
This trip gave me a little taste of a country with a plentiful history and culture, and definitely helped me realize that even though there are many differences in culture across the globe, we all share one thing in common: We all are dreaming and running ceaselessly towards our happiness. Takamatsu, you have truly provided me with happiness during my time there, and I am eternally grateful.
On my first night there, it was Tanabata (there’s an interesting back story, that my host mom read to me about the festival) where everyone makes a wish. Lots of people wished for good fortune. Others wished for good health. I wished for a return to Takamatsu in the near future.