Applications open for Yonezawa sister city program

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Courtesy photo A group of students from Moses Lake and their hosts enjoy the sights in Yonezawa, Japan as part of the Sister City Exchange Program. Applications are now being accepted for next year’s exchange.

MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake-Yonezawa Sister City Exchange Program is accepting applications for students interested in visiting Japan in the summer of next year.

The city of Yonezawa, Japan and Moses Lake first began its exchange program for high school students in 1981, three years after the Moses Lake City Council commissioned a committee devoted to exploring the possibilities of a ‘sister city’ in Japan. The “Sister City” agreement was signed on May 1, 1981, by Moses Lake Mayor Bob Hill and Yonezawa Mayor Toshihide Cho.

The Moses Lake-Yonezawa Sister City Exchange Program will enter its 39th year in the summer of 2020 when four students from Moses Lake travel to Yonezawa to live temporarily with their host family. Students from Yonezawa visit Moses Lake one week later for 10 days, exploring various areas in the city and county.

“Yonezawa is very welcoming and beautiful,” chaperone Amador Castro said. Castro is a teacher at Moses Lake High School and chaperones the group of students in Yonezawa each year.

“I love Yonezawa. The people are so nice and welcoming. It’s surrounded by green forest mountains. It’s really beautiful,” Castro told the Columbia Basin Herald. “I like the Moses Lake-Yonezawa sister city exchange program. The program is one of the longest-running exchange student programs in the world. The food is amazing in Yonezawa, and I loved learning about the one knife carving. I love the culture in Japan and the relationships between Yonezawa and Moses Lake.”

The students from Moses Lake that are selected to the program will stay in Yonezawa City beginning on July 23 to Aug. 1, 2020. The teens from Yonezawa will arrive in Moses Lake on Aug. 7, 2020 and will be in town until Aug. 15. The sister city exchange program is looking for three juniors and one freshman, program treasurer Terry Moore said.

For Terry, her roots in the program go way back to 2002, when her daughter, an exchange student, visited Yonezawa.

“It is a good program and it gives students a good opportunity to see a different culture. It gives students a chance to experience another culture with students of your age,” Moore said.

The experience in Yonezawa this summer was life-changing, Karson Voss, a junior at Moses Lake High School, told the Columbia Basin Herald.

“The person I was then and the person I am now are completely different,” Voss said. “The culture in Yonezawa will always hold a place in my heart. Being with Shutaro and his family taught me so much about not only them but also myself. Seeing the ways that Shutaro and I are not only different but seeing the ways we are the same was amazing. Being immersed in Japanese culture and living day to day in Japanese life was the best gift I could have ever received. I can’t put into words the beauty and greatness this program possesses. Yonezawa, Japan was the most amazing adventure of my life and the memories and relationships it gave me I will cherish forever.”

The deadline to apply is Feb. 1, 2020. Applications can be found on the Moses Lake-Yonezawa Sister City Exchange Program’s website, www.mlsistercityexchange.wordpress.com.

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