CORNING - Thirteen Kakegawa, Japan, students enjoyed visiting the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, touring the Corning-Painted Post High School and much more Tuesday on the group’s final day in the Crystal City.
Vivian Munoz-Halm, Corning-Kakegawa Sister City Committee chair, said the experiences students and their adult chaperones had during the Sister City trip was nothing less than fantastic.
“It was a great time,” said Mizuno Yasushi, leader of the Kakegawa Sister City Committee. “Everyone has enjoyed it.”
The Kakegawa students and chaperones arrived in Corning last week and have spent their time since learning about the Crystal City. The group will head to the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport today to begin their trip back to Japan.
“The trip is really a cultural understanding, developing friendships and promoting and understanding people and cultures,” Munoz-Halm said. “It’s a sense of how everybody is human. We are all equal.”
Munoz-Halm said Sister Cities officials made the trip a more focused educational program than in the past.
“We took the students to activities really throughout the Southern Tier,” Munoz-Halm said. “We wanted them to see a community is not just a tourist place but it is a living community.”
In 1989 the City of Corning and the town of Osuka, Japan, began a Sister Cities relationship based on friendship and with the goal of peace between nations, according to Mary Wollatt, Corning-Kakegawa Sister City Committee secretary and former president of the Corning Sister Cities organization.
“This peace is centered on a citizen diplomacy network between the people of these two cities,” Wollatt said. “In 2007, the Town of Osuka was merged into the City of Kakegawa and our mutual friendly relationship expanded.”
Wollatt said 2019 is the 30th anniversary of that relationship.
“It is an opportunity to dedicate our cities to many more years of friendship,” Wollatt said, standing near a newly dedicated plaque at the Sister Cities International Peace Garden at the Nasser Civic Center.
Mayor Bill Boland called the Corning Sister Cities Association a great asset to the city.
“We are very pleased that you are here and we hope you are all having a great time,” Boland told the Kakegawa students. “We look forward to many more trips both from the United States to Kakegawa but also from Kakegawa to the United States. Welcome, and thank you for being here.”
The Corning Sister Cities Association was established in 1987 to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time.” Corning currently has three sister cities: Lviv, Ukraine; Kakegawa, Japan; and San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy.