Durham Sister Cities is sending a delegation of high school students and 2 adults on a thirteen day visit to Toyama, Japan, in July of 2016. The heart of the trip is a seven day visit in Toyama, staying in host homes, visiting schools, and touring local sites of interest. We are also planning to see Tokyo and the castle town of Kanazawa, lodging in a hotel and youth hostel.
Background: Durham and Toyama, Japan, have been Sister Cities for over 20 years. As part of the Sister City relationship, delegations periodically visit each other’s cities. Since 1995, in alternating years, Durham and Toyama have been exchanging delegations of middle, high school and college students. These visits have resulted in wonderful experiences for our young people in terms of intercultural communication and the forming of direct long-lasting relationships with friends across the globe.
Toyama information: Toyama is on the Western side of Japan’s main island. Like Durham, Toyama is a “City of Medicine” –home of the pharmaceutical industry. Its population is triple that of Durham, and Toyama City is the capital of Toyama Prefecture. It sits on a fertile plain between the Tateyama Mountain Range (nicknamed the Japanese Alps) and the Sea of Japan. Fishing and mountaineering are part of Toyama’s culture. Melting snow and rain in the mountains provide plentiful water for rice cultivation and other agriculture.
Dates: July 14 – 26, 2016. The visit to Toyama is from July 17 to 24. We will take the Bullet Train to Toyama Station.
Who is eligible? Durham students currently in grades 9-12. Two chaperones have been identified for the trip, and it is planned for 15 students to attend.
We are looking for friendly, open-minded, considerate, responsible persons who will leave our hosts with a high impression of Durham’s people. We want outgoing delegates who enjoy new experiences, including different foods. Your communication skills will be tested. Can you adjust your conversation for someone who is not familiar with English and communicate via actions and facial expressions as well as words? Can you try communicating in Japanese? Will you respond positively, conveying appreciation to your hosts?
A selection from the applicants will be made based on “readiness” to represent Durham: maturity, flexibility, adaptability, outgoingness, special talents, and teacher recommendations.
What can you expect? Students will be lodged in Toyama homes, getting a first-hand look at Japanese life. You may stand out in a town with limited international guests. Delegates typically develop close bonds with their hosts, despite the language barrier. While communication is a challenge, English is the foreign language for the Japanese people. Beginning in seventh grade all students study English each year through twelfth grade. But, in speaking with you, they may be testing their skills for the first time! Your hosts will be anxious to meet you and communicate with you. They will make every effort to provide a happy and comfortable stay.
Cost: Estimated at $3300- 3500 (some cost details are not yet finalized)
Included: Round trip air fare from RDU, travel insurance, domestic travel within Japan (bus, train), lodging in quality hotels with full breakfasts.
Not included: spending money, snacks, and most other expenses when the group is not in Toyama–intra-city transportation fares (bus/subway/boat), some entrance fees, most lunches and dinners.
In relative terms, the trip is a bargain when compared to the price of trip using standard tourist arrangements. Japan is a long ticket and an expensive country! Delegates spend virtually no money in Toyama, as the hosts cover almost everything.
Of course, the value of the trip cannot be measured in dollars, but in the rich experience of sampling life on the other side of the world. We will be happy to put you in touch with previous delegates so you can hear first-hand reports. Some of them report discussing the Toyama trip in their college applications.
Other requirements and expectations: Delegates must attend orientation meetings. A successful trip depends on the delegates’ effort to learn about Japanese culture and language.
Delegates will exchange communications with their host family prior to the trip and take gifts to the hosts.
How to apply: Fill out the application form. See Ms. Price for Return it via email to Donna Maskill (336-263-0570 cell) of the Durham Sister Cities Toyama Committee by December 4, 2015. Donna.firstname.lastname@example.org Notifications regarding selections will be sent on January 4, 2016. A non-refundable deposit of $1000 would be due January 15, 2016. The balance due date is to be determined.