On July 5th Wilkinson College Administrative Assistant David Krausman boarded a plane with a delegation of ten high school students and one co-chaperone bound for Fukui, Japan. The delegation of students represented the city of Fullerton, California in a cultural exchange that has been going on between the two cities for almost 30 years. The Fullerton Sister Cities Association (of which Krausman sits on the board of directors) has been sponsoring junior and adult delegations of cultural exchanges for almost 50 years to the cities of Morelia, Mexico, Yongin, South Korea, and Fukui, Japan.
During the Fukui 2019 Junior Ambassador Delegation, students visited the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara before spending ten nights with host families in Fukui. The days are rigorous, often leaving their lodging before 8 a.m. and not returning until after 10 p.m. that evening. Racking up almost 20,000 steps and 10 miles each day in the hot and humid Japanese summer. Students visit temples, shrines, forests, gardens and more shops (particularly, ice cream shops) than they can remember.
On these trips students learn firsthand the broad strokes of Japanese culture and language: cleansing and prayer rituals at Shinto shrines, navigating oftentimes overwhelming train stations, and finer strokes living with their host families: picking up the kids from school or grocery shopping, witnessing (and becoming a part of) day-to-day life, creating bonds that last decades.
The goal of these Sister Cities exchanges is twofold; first, educating youths and adults in both world cultures and cultural exchange, and second, fostering and deepening the cultural connections between two cities and two counties with a relationship as fascinating, complex, and rich, as sisterhood.