Burbank Sister City Committee Opens Applications For Student Travel To Japan In Summer 2022
September 8, 2021
Contact: Lisa Paredes
The Burbank Sister City Committee has opened applications for resident high school students who are interested to join a group traveling to Ota, Japan, in Summer 2022. The Student Exchange Program trip to Ota was rescheduled due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic from Summer of 2020 to the Summer of 2022.
Although several students who were selected for the 2020 Ota trip are still planning to travel in 2022, there are a few spaces for additional students to join the trip. The deadline for student applications is October 15, 2021.
The program’s purpose is to promote communication, goodwill and cultural awareness, as well as foster closer relationships as sister cities by offering the opportunity of better understanding between people of different countries.
Students must be Burbank residents, enrolled in grades 9 -12 and their families must agree to host a visiting student or chaperone for two weeks of the subsequent two summers. If selected for travel, students must commit to a minimum two-year active role with the BSCC.
For more than three decades, a small group of approximately 12 students, plus two adult chaperones, travel to either Ota, Japan, or Incheon, Korea, every summer to stay in residential homes and experience life in each of those cities for two weeks. After Burbank students travel abroad, a few weeks later, a visiting delegation of student travelers and their chaperones from either Ota or Incheon visit Burbank families for a similar experience of life in Burbank, CA.
Ota and Incheon alternate summer trips with Burbank. The summer when Burbank students visit Ota, students from Incheon visit. The following summer, when Burbank students visit Incheon, Ota students visit.
Burbank has established Sister City partnerships with four cities since 1960: Solna, Sweden (1960), Incheon, Korea (1961), Gaborone, Botswana (1975), and Ota, Japan (1984.) The Student Exchange Program is specifically set up for travel exchanges with Ota and Incheon.
“To promote these partnerships, the Burbank Sister City Committee strives to stimulate cultural and educational exchanges through community volunteers,” commented BSCC President James Callahan, whose daughters participated in the Student Exchange Program in previous years.
“Burbank’s relationships with our four Sister Cities have long enriched our community by spreading global awareness and bringing people together,” commented Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos. “The exchanges with Ota, Japan, and Incheon, Korea, each summer provide our Burbank students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live with a family in another country and experience everyday life, as well as welcoming Sister City students into their own homes.”
“The City Council appreciates having the partnership of the all-volunteer Burbank Sister City Committee to keep these wonderful exchanges going year after year,” Frutos added.
“My trip to Incheon, Korea, was amazing,” commented John Burroughs High School senior Nuala Giffen, who traveled with the Burbank delegation in summer 2019. “At first it was very difficult because it was hard to understand each other but with the power of Google Translate we were able to communicate really efficiently.”
“This was a phenomenal experience and I was able to learn so much about Korean culture.” she also said. “I stayed with two different families who showed me their everyday lives and introduced me to a ton of new foods. I got to form connections with so many different individuals and learn so much about them. We were able to talk about schooling, college and hobbies and also bond over TV shows we watched together.”
“During the days, we went on group field trips,” Giffen added. “One of the days, we visited the DMZ which is the area that separates North and South Korea. Another field trip that I really enjoyed was going to Seoul, wearing their traditional hanbok clothing. Overall the trip was such a fun experience. I made so many friends, tried amazing food and learned a lot about their culture.”
Visit www.burbanksistercity.org for more information and student applications. Burbank Sister City Committee’s
next meeting is Monday, September 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central branch of the Burbank Public Library.