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I have some disappointing news about the student exchange trip this summer.
Yesterday, Jimmy Mihori came by and advised me that he had been contacted by Miyazu City Hall and their Sister cities committee regarding the upcoming trip. If you have been following the news, you saw that Japan has confirmed a number of swine flu cases. All flights coming into Japan are undergoing health inspections upon arrival, and if 2 or more people are found to have any flu symptoms (fever, cough, etc.) all of the passengers are quarantined for 10 days. While the first communication from Miyazu did not directly request that we postpone the trip, that was clearly the intent. I asked Bob Barcinski to have the proclamation pulled off the City Commission agenda tonight until we had further communication with Miyazu.
Jimmy received more information from Miyazu City Hall last night. Almost 2400 schools have been closed in Kyoto Prefecture due to swine flu, and Miyazu officials are very concerned about the timing of our trip. They have asked that we postpone until next summer. Jimmy and I both feel that we need to honor their request.
This is disappointing, but fortunately all of the students selected will be returning to high school in the fall. They all can still go on the trip next summer, but some will not be able to participate in the sessions following their return.
I advised Tony of this yesterday. Since the students and their parents were to be at City hall this evening (Tuesday May 19th, 2009) at 6pm, we will meet with them then and confirm this. For our board members, if you were planning on attending the City Commission meeting tonight there is no need to.
David W. Schmidt
Just reminding you and hoping that you can spare the time in your schedule to attend our 5-7-09 Sister Cities board meeting to see and hear our Exchange Students who will be traveling to Japan in June. It will mean a lot to the students to see your presence because they have dedicated themselves to prepare and be great students Ambassadors for Delray Beach.
Our 7 Exchange Students were selected a year ago in a very competitive and extensive process. These 7 students started their orientation with a summer assignment last year and have spent this entire school year attending weekly orientation classes lead/coordinated by Tony Durante to learn about Japan and also about the City of Delray Beach. Tony has, again, had the dedicated assistance of Yoshiko Shiratori with this group of Exchange Students as with our last group of students. The students are now at the end of their orientation and want to share a bit with you as to their preparedness to go to Japan to represent us. Please do your best to be at our meeting to hear them. They have spent the last 10 months getting ready to go to Japan this June and to represent the City well.
In addition to the meeting on 5-7-09, I am also asking you if you could attend two more scheduled meetings that are a part of the final round of important activities for our Exchange Students. Knowing how dedicated our Exchange Students have been throughout the orientation period and how excited they are now with anticipation about the Japan trip itself, I am sure that the students will be elated at your presence at 2 more events we have scheduled for them. Those 2 more scheduled dates and events are:
1. Tuesday, May 19th, 6:00pm at Delray Beach City Commission meeting. At that meeting each student will be issued a Proclamation from the Mayor proclaiming them as Youth Ambassadors for the City of Delray Beach, Florida, USA. If possible, please let them see your face again. Remember, they are the products of our Delray Beach Sister Cities so let's try to show up at the Commission meeting and just by our presence, it can show them our support for our project and our product.
2. Sunday, June 7th at 10:30am, Sayanaro reception in the lobby of the gym at Trinity Lutheran School at the SW corner of North Swinton Avenue & Lake Ida Road (gym building faces Lake Ida Road). This will be the last gathering of the students and their families before they leave for Japan. The parents will be coordinating the refreshments for the reception (and I have seen how they can really do a fantastic job at this). For that Sunday, the Exchange Students and families will attend the 9:30am Trinity Lutheran Church worship service as the guest of Tony Durante. The pastor of Trinity will do a special recognition of the students at that worship service which is conducted in the gym also. The 9:30am service is Trinity's worship service of contemporary gospel music. If you can schedule it, you are welcome to attend the worship service too, but please do at least try to show your presence at the 10:30am reception and give your best wishes and Sayanaros to the students. By then, they will be bubbly with excitement about the trip because they leave for Japan on June 12th.
Please mark you calendar for these important dates.
Below is a photo album of pictures taken during a local outing for the exchange students. Last Saturday, they did the MLF Bus Tour as part of their orientation. I know that you have asked for content about the student exchange program to put on the website. Hopefully, this is helpful.
From: Yoshiko [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 9:01 PM
Subject: Invitation to view Yoshiko's Picasa Web Album - 20090425_Nihon_go_DBBusTour
You are invited to view Yoshiko's photo album: http://picasaweb.google.co.jp/yoshikot36/20090425_Nihon_go_DBBusTour?authkey=Gv1sRgCLWqmpeZ7e2FBw&feat=email#slideshow
Apr 25, 2009
Message from Yoshiko:
It was great experience to join today's tour and lunch.
Please visit this album to check and download the photos.
Nancy, Thank you very much for the tour & lunch today. I really enjoyed a lot!
Lori, I really enjoyed your narration (it was impressive) as well as your food selections:)
Tony san, Thank you for invitation today.
This album is NOT open to public - please provide me all students email addresses so I can send the invitations to them to share those photos.
The students who were selected in our highly competitive selection process through our demanding, high standards criteria. They were selected last year in May. They were given summer study assignments last year and have been required to attend weekly training session with Tony for 1 1/2 hours once each week.
The student applicants have to fully complete an application that provides qualifying details. If the application is fully completed, then it is void and the applicant is not invited to proceed with the rest of the process. You may have attended the first phase of the selection process when all Sister Cities board members were invited to a reception last year (I think it was in April) with all student applicants and their parents. At that session, each student was asked to respond to a question asked by Tony Durantte. After that reception, our Sister Cities selection committee for the exchange student program that had received and reviewed all of the applications that had been submitted, met to weed the number of applicants down from the approximate 25 that we had received to a manageable interview size. Using certain criteria, we selected 12 students for the personal individual interview with our committee. Each student selected for the individual interview with our selection committee is required to have at least one parent in attendance at the time of the interview. Most of the students actually bring both parents. Once the 12 individual interviews were completed, the selection committee met to vote and select the final 7 students who would be in the Exchange Program. The interviews were done in May last year to complete them before the end of last year's school year and make our selections so that the students could begin their summers assignment of training/preparations for the exchange program. The exchange student program schedule of orientation activities is on the website under January news. This provides a bit of the type of activities that they do to prepare to visit Japan as our exchange students and Youth Ambassadors for the City of Delray. Each of the students will be given a Proclamation in May from the Mayor of Delray Beach proclaiming them as the city's Youth Ambassadors to Miyazu, Japan. Nancy King coordinated that date for us to be on the Commission agenda.
The composition of the selection/preparation/training process for our Exchange Student program was designed by me when we started the program in year 1995. Tony is the one who has designed the actual content of the training/preparation activities that the students do before they go to Miyazu.