Due to COVID-19 health concerns and travel restrictions the traditional high-school student exchanges between the two cities which have been organized for more than 40 years were postponed.
St Pete, Florida and Takamatsu, Japan have been Sister Cities for 60 years - one of the longest running Sister City programs in Florida! In continuing with the 60th Anniversary celebrations, on Saturday, September 25, from 7:00 - 8:30pm, 20 middle school students from St Pete gathered at the Gladden Park Recreation Center. At the exact same time, 20 middle-school students from Takamatsu logged on ZOOM at 8:00am to take part in the first virtual student exchange between the two cities.
Students in each city were afforded a live video exchange, tour and presentation about the other city. Students in St Pete then watched a video to learn how sushi was made and tried their hand at eating sushi. The unique and delicious sushi recipes were provided by Takamatsu and Bento Sushi in St. Pete was kind enough to assist with creating the custom orders. Students in Takamatsu watched a video tour of downtown St. Pete and heard why the Tampa Bay area is known for its professional sports teams. The students in Takamatsu then had an opportunity to open small gift boxes that include pens, pencils, memorabilia etc. from St Pete and around the Tampa Bay area.
St Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman provided the official welcome greeting and interpreters on both sides helped students understand, when the other language was spoken.
This was a phenomenal event!