Summer 2013
The Hekinan Delegation of about 35 citizens and officials from Hekinan, Japan, will visit Edmonds from October 29 to November 4. This is the second part of the 25th Anniversary celebration of our Sister City connection. The first part was the Mayor's Delegation to Hekinan in April 2013.

Mayor Earling and Chamber of Commerce President Ron Clyborne, Edmonds Community College President Dr. Jean Hernandez, and Swedish/Edmonds Chief Executive David Jaffe will lead the welcome for the many events planned for the delegation. The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce is planning an event for the Japanese delegation at the Halloween festivities, so look for them in their unique costumes on October 31!

There will also be a celebration of the Sister City 25th Anniversary at Edmonds Center for the Arts on October 30th, free to the public. This event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature intercultural performances and photography exhibition by a Hekinan photographer, among other cultural presentations.

2013 delegation compRita Ikeda, Vice-Chair of the Commission and Itinerary Chair, says, "We are very excited to host our Sister City delegates in sharing our cultures and international friendships showcasing our many interesting experiences planned during their autumn visit. Many of our delegates will enjoy an enriching home stay family life experience. We are looking forward to our friendly participation from our local businesses and community partners."

An in-depth report of the Mayor's Delegation week in Hekinan by Commissioner Beth Fuhriman appeared in the Edmonds Beacon on June 6, 2013. Fuhriman reports: "In a luncheon meeting with Mayor Negita, one of our delegation asked him what his goal for Hekinan was.  He replied, 'that people enjoy living here.'" Mayor Earling, the Sister City Commission and Edmonds citizens look forward to showing our Hekinan friends that Edmonds, too, works to make every experience in our city enjoyable.

LD Hekinan compA major part of our Sister City relationship is the Assistant English Teacher program. The current AET, Lindsay Donahue, is finishing a three-year contract. She says: "Being an AET is more than just teaching English; it's about connecting the Edmonds and Hekinan communities through language, culture, and friendship. Serving as the AET at five middle schools in Hekinan for the past three years has been a crash course in all of these things. Teaching English to energetic teenagers is a new adventure every day that begins with bows and polite greetings and ends with hugs, jokes, and the antics of nefariously clever students who angle for extra credit points with the finest English prowess they can muster. Hekinan is a small town, and I feel connected to almost everyone in it because of their unfailing kindness. There aren't many towns where I could walk down the street and greet half the people I meet by name, but Hekinan is one of them. People here value relationships, even with their friends from their sister city halfway around the world."

Lauren Price compOur new AET, Lauren Price, will arrive in Hekinan in August 2013 to begin her two-year (extendable) contract. She is looking forward to this new experience: “I'm so grateful and extremely excited for this opportunity to teach in Hekinan and represent the City of Edmonds. I've grown up in love with Japan, and it felt like a second home by the time I returned from Kobe the year before last. I’m looking forward to making new friends, and learning and exploring new things as much as teaching."

In the midst of these exciting plans for 2013, the Commission is planning and looks forward to the summer 2014 Student Delegation exchanges. Michelle Rockstead, current Student Commissioner, says: Being a part of this cultural exchange has helped me gain so much knowledge. It's truly amazing. Year after year, I have witnessed connections form between the students in Edmonds and Hekinan. They have created strong bonds over the cultural differences between their home countries, and have taught each other so much. I had the wonderful opportunity to host a student from Hekinan. Megumi Shirai is not only a close friend to me, but she's my little sister now. My family opened up our home to her, and when I visited Hekinan with my dad as part of the Mayor's Delegation in April 2013, her family did the same for us. Family runs much deeper than blood, can span continents, and thrives no matter the cultures involved. I've seen how the Edmonds-Hekinan Sister City program helps educate students and create lifetime friendships.

The Commission is grateful to the Hazel Miller Foundation for a generous grant that will support the Hekinan Delegation visit in October–November. The Chamber of Commerce is also a valuable contributor supporting the upcoming week of Sister City 25th Anniversary celebrations.
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If you would like more information about the Edmonds Sister City Commission please contact Carolyn LaFave ~ or 425.771.0247.

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