Dear Visitors,

If you have not yet seen it, today's Neighborhood Post section of the Palm Beach Post has as its main cover story news about our Exchange Student program. I have pasted below the content of the story and the one inside photo that appears next to the story. The cover photo which is not included below is a photo inside the tea house room at the Morikami showing Reiko teaching our Exchange Students.


Teens delve into Japan's customs for sister city trip


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mr. Brown was visiting Japan.

During a meal with friends, Mr. Brown felt a tickle in his nostril, reached into his pocket for a handkerchief and blew his nose.

Eliza Gutierrez/The Post

Students with the Sister Cities program, Jacqui Lowell, 15, Sofia Ellingsworth, 15, Chelsea Brandt, 15, and Matt Kondziela, 17, review Japanese customs at the Morikami Museum. Virginia Scmidt (left) will be joining the students on the trip to Miyazu, Japan.

To Mr. Brown's dismay, his Japanese hosts were shocked and insulted.

But why?

Reiko Nishioka, The director of education at the Morikami Museum west of Delray Beach, offered the scenario as an example of the many pitfalls to avoid as part of a training program for a small group of local high school students preparing to visit Japan in June.

It turns out, Nishioka advised, Japanese people usually blow their noses in private and never at the dinner table.

"What happens if you're eating with Japanese people and you have to sneeze?" American Heritage student Chelsea Brandt asked.

"Just please, cover it," Nishioka said, laughing.

The seven student ambassadors will venture to Miyazu, Japan, as part of Delray Beach's Sister Cities program. The group has met nearly once per week since August to practice their Japanese and learn important customs.

"We get both the language and the cultural aspects of Japan," Atlantic High student Jacqui Lowell said. "Since we meet once a week, it really gets ingrained in us."

And while she's excited about the trip, Lowell said learning to navigate the sensitive social situations is daunting at times.

"There's always the nerves, of how I'm going to adjust with my host family," she said.

Each student will spend three nights with a family, sharing meals and accompanying their Japanese counterparts to school.

On this day, the students gathered in the Morikami Museum's tea room to discuss the proper way to receive gifts, exchange pleasantries and remove their shoes when entering the homes of their host families.

The Sister Cities program, which pairs cities in the United States with other cities abroad, began in the 1950s as a way to connect different cultures and promote peace and cooperation.

In 1977, Delray Beach began its partnership with Miyazu, the hometown of Japanese immigrant George Morikami, who donated 200 acres to Palm Beach County to create the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

Delray Beach is also partnered with Moshi, a city in Tanzania at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Every other year since 1999, the Sister Cities Committee of Delray Beach has sponsored a team of students to visit Miyazu.

A group made up of committee members, former participants and other officials chose this year's students based on essays and interviews. Each lives or goes to school in Delray Beach.

Tony Durante, who helps coordinate the trip and serves as the orientation instructor, said the students have an important role as ambassadors for the city and the country.

When they return, the teens are expected to speak about their experiences to local high schools, civic groups and the Delray Beach City Commission.

"We're looking for someone who can be an ambassador but at the same time has a willingness to learn and is interested in other cultures," Durante said. "They go over to bring good will from our culture, but they also come back to educate others about Japan."

Brandt, the American Heritage student, said it will be her first time abroad and she's looking forward to being immersed in a different culture.

Her older sister took the trip two years ago and when she returned, two daughters from the Japanese host family came to visit Brandt's family in Boynton Beach.

"It was such a great experience," Brandt said.

Sister Cities Student Exchange
Important Dates

Regular Meetings:

• Thursdays, 3:45-4:45 PM we meet for orientation sessions at TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH’S YOUTH ROOM

The following are special dates to remember for our orientation calendar:

• Thursdays, September 18 & 25, 3:45-4:45 PM: We meet at THE MORIKAMI MUSEUM

• Saturday, October 4, 7 AM-2 PM: Volunteering at DLERAY BEACH GOLF CLUB FOR the Sister Cities Golf Tournament

• Thursday, October 9 (Public School Holiday): No regular class/Make-up session

• Thursdays, October 16, 23 & 30, 3:45-5 PM: We meet at 505 TEEN CENTER for Student Academy

• Thursday, November 20, 6:35 PM: Family Dinner at TRINITY’S FELLOWSHIP HALL (No meeting at 3:45)

• December 20-January 2: WINTER VACATION/No classes

• Thursday, January 8: No meeting
• Thursday, January 15, 3:45-4:45 PM we meet for orientation sessions at TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH’S YOUTH ROOM

• Sunday, January 11, 1-3 PM: We meet for O-Shogatsu at the MORIKAMI MUSEUM

• Thursday, January 22, 3:45-4:45 PM: We meet at the MORIKAMI MUSUEM

• Thursday, January 29: No meeting

• Saturday, January 31, 7-9 PM: We meet at Trinity for CULTURAL MOVIE NIGHT

• Thursday, February 5, 3:45-4:45 PM: We attend the Sister Cities Board Meeting at DELRAY BEACH CITY HALL

• Thursday, March 19: No class

• March 21, 22: students volunteering for Hatsume at the MORIKAMI MUSUEM

• Monday, March 23, 7:05 PM: Parent’s Information Session/Travel updates at TRINITY’S YOUTH ROOM

• Saturday, April 25 (?): Historic Delray Beach Bus Tour departing from TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH

• Tuesday, April 28, 7:05 PM: Travel Info Meeting (location TBA)

• Sunday, June 7, 10:30 AM: Farewell Reception for Exchange Students at TRINITY’S GYMNASIUM LOBBY

• Friday, June 12-Saturday, June 20:
Please watch for updates for all engagements in advance, as dates, times and locations are subject to change