Long Beach-Yokkaichi Sister City Association

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Testimonials

MISSION STATEMENT
“To create rapport between the cities by exchanging cultural, civic and educational ideas and issues and to promote better understanding and friendship between the United States and Japan.”

Testimonials from Past Trio Ambassadors and Their Parents

Marybeth Murray, 2017 Trio Teacher and Chaperone

There are a number of educators who go above and beyond to meet the needs of their students. As an educator, my life’s goal is to provide the best learning experiences and education for my students. Going to Yokkaichi Japan was an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I constantly share with my students. Flying to Japan and getting off the plane there was an experience in itself. We were greeted by Mr. Toshihide Tanaka, Mr. Hideto Yoshimizu, and Mr. Yasumasa Ohno with a welcome sign and smiling faces. We had no idea what a wonderful experience we were in for. Being in Japan and meeting all the wonderful host families and friends was such a beautiful and enriching experience and one that will last a lifetime. We visited schools, local businesses and made lifelong friendships.  Working and interacting with our new Japanese friends allowed us to build personal relationships, and learn about Japanese culture from a local perspective. Each day held a new adventure and experience for myself and the student students I chaperoned.  From meeting the mayor and attending traditional Japanese celebrations to learning about Japanese food, education and history, each day held new promise for us.  Since coming home from Japan, I have developed a deeper appreciation for the Japanese culture and have been working on developing Pen Pal relationships between the students at my school and the students we met in Yokkaichi. I look forward to continued friendship and cultural exchanges with the people of Yokkaichi.

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Lily Brossus, 2017 Trio Ambassador
Written January 2018

This summer in Japan was a time of growth for me. I had never been out of the country, so Yokkaichi was my first impression of the world. I loved that their ancient culture is preserved and apparent in their everyday lives. Staying in Yokkaichi was a culturally rich experience. I saw the divergence of modern Japan from traditional Japan, in their skyscrapers and ancient ninja dwellings. From traditional tea ceremonies to riding the Shinkansen, every part was exciting. I will never forget the beautiful Kinkakuji and trip to Ise Jingu. Or the delicious mochi, which tasted especially good when we made it ourselves.

However, my favorite part of the trip were the kind people. My host families were not only generous in opening their homes to me, but by sharing their lives and country with me. From visiting the tallest building in Japan to singing karaoke through the night together they made me feel part of their family. Our guides from the cultural center were devoted to making us feel welcome and never failed to share a fun fact or make us laugh. One of my biggest achievements was speaking Japanese everyday. Plus, I had understanding host families, guides, high school students, and even the mayor to practice with. I was honored to be a Trio Ambassador.

My experience in Yokkaichi has changed my worldview and myself, and I will cherish my time there forever. Thank you for sharing your kindness and beautiful country with me.

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Aidan Harper, 2017 Trio student

Without a doubt, Yokkaichi is one of the best places I have ever visited.

I like to think that I am fairly well traveled as I have been all across Europe, but what I realize after the Trio Program is that I have been missing out on some great experiences.

For foreigners, I doubt that Yokkaichi is the city they envision visiting, as it isn’t one of those big, fancy cities with all of the extravagant flashing neon lights that are found in the usual destinations like Tokyo and Osaka.

But from my time in Yokkaichi, I realize that these superficial displays are not what makes the city, rather the experiences and ideas that you encounter with the people who live there. Yokkaichi has some of the most welcoming people who ultimately negating the need for the flashy exterior of most major travel destinations. Yokkaichi has both the charm of a countryside town, and the energetic feel of a flourishing city with the buzzing hive of local industry.

In the three weeks that I was there as a part of the Trio program, I feel like I encountered more new ideas and experiences than I had done in the past three years of high school. My time in Yokkaichi has changed my world outlook and will continue to influence my world views for the rest of the foreseeable future, and I will never be able to truly repay all of the unwavering hospitality that everyone showed us during our stay.

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Faustine Chow, 2009 Trio Student Delegate

Lasting Friendship with My Host Family

Being part of the 2009 Long Beach-Yokkaichi Sister City Trio Program was such a humbling and eye-opening experience. As it was my first time traveling without my parents, I learned how to adapt and be more independent.

With Japan’s welcoming culture, it was easy to integrate and communicate with the people and community. Currently, I am striving to work for a company to do business internationally.

Without this trip, I would not have been able to be submerged into the Japanese traditions and environment. The greatest experience was being able to build lasting friendships with my host families. We still keep in touch and they are welcome to stay in my home anytime they visit Long Beach. It is incredible to see how this program has touched so many lives and hearts. Cheers to the 50th anniversary of this Trio program! I hope the longevity of this program may continue to thrive.

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Bill Chow, Father of Faustine Chow, 2009 Trio Student Delegate

The Long Beach-Yokkaichi Trio program has provided a once-in-a life-time, mind opening experience for my daughter, Faustine, as she’s encountered people from the other part of the  world who are well disciplined, hard-working, dedicated, honest and friendly.  She has also gained an in-depth knowledge towards the understanding of the way of life and tradition of the Japanese counterpart.

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Gage Hulsey, 2009 Trio Student Delegate

This year has been by far the greatest of my life so far. We thank you for all your hard work and for the effort you put into the program to make it wonderful. We have built an extraordinary bridge and I want to do my best to maintain it with everyone.  I am really looking forward to meeting next years' trio from Yokkaichi.

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Jeanne Costello
Parent of Samantha Lieberman, 2009 Trio Student Delegate

June 10, 2010

“The Legacy of the Long Beach Yokkaichi Sister City Organization”

Diplomacy… The word conjures up images of very formal and stilted meetings across large shiny tables by representatives of countries so foreign to each other, they don’t even speak the same language… Yet they are there, in theory, to achieve some mutual goal, whether it be a multi-million dollar trade agreement or a cease fire to a war upon which the true cost is immeasurable, as the tender is in human lives.

The dictionary defines diplomacy as a noun being “the management of communication and relationships between nations by members of each nation’s government”.

Very grand… and very static.

However, diplomacy is also defined as a skill in managing those communications and relationships, both in terms of nations and where it really starts… with individual people and their feelings.

In a word… Diplomacy is tact.

And tact… is understanding.

When you understand the culture and the belief system of the person sitting across that large, imposing table from you, you begin to build a bridge… a bridge whose struts and supports are built on shared interpersonal experiences and mutual respect.

And the best way to truly understand a culture and belief system that is vastly different than your own is to experience it first-hand.

That is what the Long Beach-Yokkaichi Sister City Organization gave my daughter last year when they sponsored her to attend the Environmental Summit in Yokkaichi City, Japan.

Samantha, and the three other high-school aged ambassadors were plunged into a culture and environment very different than their own and were challenged to create a cohesive and meaningful audio/visual presentation highlighting their suggestions to reduce global warming and help the environment…. And they achieved that…with four other high school aged ambassadors… from Japan… who didn’t speak English.

I know from my work experience, it’s hard enough to get a group of that many people to work as a productive team…even when they all speak the same language!

But what made it work was their ability to find the commonality of their singular purpose… the language and cultural issues were quickly overcome. As they shared their questions and concerns with each other, their insight and level of understanding of each other grew. All the while, the primary goal… a jointly conceived and mutually instituted plan to improve our environment was evolving.

When you give children the opportunity to embrace other cultures and practice the “art of diplomacy” at a young age… as with any other skill… it becomes honed over time. And given the inter-dependence of our global community, the future of all nations will rest squarely on those who have mastered the understanding of cultures beyond their own. We owe it to ourselves to maintain programs such as the Sister City organization, as the seeds it is planting today, will bear so much that will benefit our global future.