Exchange events for Akita City-Kenai Peninsula Borough 30th anniversary of sister city partnership

Early August 2023, Akita City in Japan and Kenai Peninsula Borough in Alaska celebrated 30th anniversary of their city exchange partnership with a series of events. Things took off with Dinner Celebration in honour of Ms. Yasuko Lehtinen for Receiving Foreign Minister’s Commendation and welcome party as students and a delegation from the Kenai Peninsula Borough arrived in Akita City, Japan.
All the members from Kenai had an opportunity to stay with host families in Akita City. Among the members, 7 students spent a day interacting with a group of 10 Japanese school students after a short sessions with American Assistant Language Teachers in Akita City. At the end of the day, the Kenai students joined the famous Japan’s National Important Intangible Cultural Heritage, Kanto Festival. Besides that, everyone from Kenai went on a bus tour with host families sightseeing around famous tourist spots and historical places in Akita Prefecture. The students expressed a wonder at the beauty and cleanliness of Japan. Besides that, they get to experience the hospitality of Japanese first hand through this trip and they especially expressed a deep appreciation of Japanese cuisine, particularly the wonderful breakfasts prepared by host families and the general quality and health aspects of the food. However, this of course did not stop them from all collectively visiting a McDonalds the moment they were back stateside in the Seattle airport according to a humored member of the trip.
The trip also had its difficulties in the form of extreme turbulence due to typhoons in Kyushu. It was so significant that the airlines could not retrieve luggage from the planes for hours after landing! Students and chaperones alike feared for their lives at one point. However, getting through such experience unscathed leads to a greater understanding and respect for one another.
This exchange was a wonderful opportunity and an example of the continued relationships between Alaska and Japan. In fact, many of the students expressed that they are hoping to venture into careers in the future that will allow them to continue develop Alaska’s connection with Japan, whether through the JET program or other paths.