Salem/Ota Teacher and Student Exchange Program
The City of Salem and Ota/ Tokyo, Japan have been Sister Cities since 1991. Residents and students from both cities travel back and forth to further enrich the relationship.
For the past two years, Ms. Keiko Mitsugi has been living with an American family and teaching Japanese in several schools as a J-1 exchange teacher visitor sponsored by the Cordell Hull Foundation and the Salem/ Ota Club. She has also helped organize two very successful summer-study programs for students and public-school educators to travel to Japan.
From August 6th to 17th 2001, twelve students representing the City of Salem, chaperoned by two adults, traveled to Ota. They stayed with Japanese families during their stay in Ota and also traveled throughout Japan and participated in many cultural activities. This program was run through the Mayor’s Office in the city of Salem.
Prospective students went through an application process, which included an essay of 3-5 pages. Prior to the trip, students were treated to lectures about Japanese lifestyle, tradition and customs from Peter Dolan, Sister City Exchange Coordinator, and Keiko Mitsugi, J-1 teacher exchange visitor from Ota sponsored by the Cordell Hull Foundation. They also practiced two Japanese songs to sing onstage at the annual Peace Festival in Ota. The group got together to share pictures and stories with each other and their families. A Power Point slide presentation put to music was shown to guests.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Hiroshima. The Peace Memorial Museum collects and displays belongings left by the victims, photos, and other materials that convey the horror of the world’s first atomic bombing. The Salem Group learned what happened between the United States and Japan in the past and the importance of a peaceful international community.
Another important highlight of the trip was the day spent with students from Chao Yang, Beijing, China, a friendship city of Ota. The student groups from Ota, Salem and Beijing took advantage of playing at an Outdoor Adventure Park. Over 60 climbing structures and challenges faced the groups. Some were on land, over land, in or over water. Then the Salem and Ota groups went to the public pool for a swim. All three groups were back together again at night as the grand finale of the Ota Peace Festival. This festival represents the ending of war and celebration of world peace. Students and chaperones were dressed in traditional Japanese summer attire and sang two Japanese songs. The students were interviewed onstage in front of over 250,000 people. Afterwards, a few students from China and Salem began the ceremonial Firework Display.