Students from Revelstoke’s sister city, Ono Cho, Japan, were in town for a cultural exchange.
The visiting students arrived on Feb. 1, and were greeted by their host families with signs welcoming them to Revelstoke. Revelstoke Secondary School (RSS) Acting Principal, Andy Pfeiffer was there to welcome them as they stepped off of their bus.
“The memories created when Ono Cho visits not only last a lifetime but also helps to shape the future of both Japanese and Revelstoke students,” said Pfeiffer.
The first exchange occurred 20 years ago when Ono Cho wrote to Revelstoke to formally request an exchange. What followed next was the beginning of a longstanding friendship between Ono Cho and Revelstoke.
School Board District 19 trustee, Wendy Rota, helped organize the exchange and hopes to take a group of RSS students to Japan in 2025.
“We want to showcase our culture…and keep our friendship alive and active,” said Rota.
Rota was busy on Feb. 2, taking the group of students to RSS where they enjoyed a mechanic class, followed by a Railway Museum tour, a special presentation with Revelstoke Museum curator, Cathy English, and a tour of Revelstoke City Hall with Mayor Gary Sulz.
The exchange students continued to immerse themselves in school life on Monday (Feb. 5) when they participated in a cultural fair and helped RSS students construct origami airplanes.
Former RSS student, Tia Sakiyama attended the presentation at the Revelstoke Museum. Sakiyama was involved in the last exchange in 2019. While it wasn’t the first time she visited Japan (her grandparents live there), it was the first time she visited the country without her parents.
Sakiyama recalled there being several ceremonies, including meeting Ono Cho’s mayor and the students visiting from Revelstoke introducing themselves on stage. The exchange had such a profound impact on Sakiyama that she travelled again to Japan as a university exchange student. Despite the cultural differences, Sakiyama also noticed a lot of similarities between Revelstoke and Ono Cho, making it a home-away-from-home.
“It’s like a Japanese Revelstoke,” said Sakiyama.
District 19 Superintendent, Roberta Kubik, enjoyed the cultural exchange between the two cities and schools.
“The Ono Cho partnership allows the students to learn new perspectives, bring the best of the best to the world through mutual understanding, respect, and knowledge,” said Kubik.
Delegates from Ono Cho enjoyed watching the Revelstoke Grizzlies take on the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Feb. 3 where they got plenty of opportunities to sing the infamous ‘Hey Baby’ goal song, as the Grizzlies defeated the Wranglers 10-0.
Mayor Sulz enjoyed the tour, and said he hopes to visit Ono Cho in the future. “It always uplifts me and our staff at City Hall when (groups) come through because we’re able to highlight what we do and how we do it,” said Sulz.
The group continued their tour of Revelstoke by visiting Mount Revelstoke National Park, Nels Nelson Ski Jump, a snowshoe walk through the Soren Sorenson trail, a presentation with Tomo Fujimura, and some fun at the curling rink on Feb 3 and 4.
“The understandings that developed between the sister cities of Ono Cho and Revelstoke this week is a true gift,” said Kubik.
The students leave Revelstoke on Tuesday (Feb. 6), and head to Vancouver for a few days of sightseeing before heading back to Ono Cho, Japan.
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