What does Ketchikan get out
of the Kanayama Exchange Program?
by Tony Hatano-Worrell
March 26, 2004
Thank you for the recent photo essay featuring great photographs
of the Kanayama Students at the Totem Heritage Center. Wonderful!
I have recently heard that
one of our School Board members made a comment to the effect
that they may as well pay the teachers who neglected to fill
in the proper paperwork for a trip to Europe, because Ketchikan
pays for the Kanayama Exchange Program each year, and gets nothing
out of it.
Nothing? Read on!
Building Real Peace
If more cities in America followed Ketchikan's example by creating
similar sister city exchanges with other countries, terrorist
attacks would lessen and mutual understanding of differences
would grow. Those who doubt such a brash statement need only
recall our involvement in a war that began with an unprovoked
attack upon America -- over 60 years ago, at Pearl Harbor. Now
look at us! Despite our differences in religion and culture,
the people of Kanayama have become our true, dear friends, and
it is now inconceivable that we would ever again make or tolerate
war upon each other. Never underestimate the value of our exchange!
Ketchikan and Kanayama's unique two-way teacher and student exchange
is a shining example of building and maintaining real peace and
friendship with a once-feared enemy.
Economic benefits and potential:
While we already benefit
from the famous shopping sprees that the Kanayama students undertake
in Ketchikan each spring (24 people shopping for several gifts
and eating at our local restaurants almost daily for 10 days
is nothing to sneeze at), there yet remains great potential for
this exchange to help both the First City and Kanayama economically.
If Ketchikan is looking for a way to recover from various economic
hardships, one way would be to explore business partnerships
and a business exchange of goods from both nations. Ketchikan
teachers who spend a year in Kanayama come home with a better
understanding of the Japanese mind, and give their Ketchikan
students an interest in Japan. Students grow up to explore that
interest further as indeed several already have. Both teachers
and students forge friendships and connections in Japan, which
has the potential to open doors that would otherwise remain closed.
Although we have yet to fully realize such possibilities, people
in both countries have expressed interest in this untapped resource.
Continuing our exchange only helps to build and maintain such
possibilities for our future.
So many people see
Japan as a nation of inscrutable mystery. When I went to Kayhi,
I knew almost nothing about it, and the little I did know was
based mostly on Hollywood inaccuracies. Now, however, there are
students in every public school in Ketchikan which can tell you
real facts about Japan, and whom can all greet people in Japanese,
count in Japanese, tell you the names of colors in Japanese,
teach you traditional Japanese games, and so on. This ability
to communicate and understand another language and culture can
only help our Ketchikan students to get ahead in the future,
and it proves that Japan and any other nation can
be understood if only we make the most of the educational opportunities
offered to us.
Our students can do this because
(1) Kanayama sends a Japanese teacher to Ketchikan every year,
and (2) Ketchikan sends an American teacher to Kanayama each
year. Teachers who return to Ketchikan from Kanayama educate
their students about Kanayama. For example, for several years
the first exchange teacher to Kanayama, Ms. Christa Bruce, gave
Ketchikan students the advantage of an education in the language
and culture of Japan. Other past teachers have given public talks
and presentations about Kanayama; many have shared their knowledge
in Ketchikan's schools. Several past teachers have even taken
the trouble to invite guest teachers from Kanayama, setting up
special classes in various Japanese arts and skills. - Then there
was the wonderful 4th of July Parade back in 1996 that featured
Kanayama's White Dragon Drummers, and the Koto Concert and Flower
Arrangement Classes provided by Kanayama's own world-class musician,
Ms. Chieko Imai. These were nothing Ketchikan directly paid for,
but were all extra benefits that came as a result of our sister
city partnership. The teacher that Kanayama also sends to us
continues to enrich our knowledge and understanding of what is
often thought to be an incomprehensible culture. This year's
teacher from Kanayama, Ms. Tomoka Kato, is so excited to tell
Ketchikan about her home country that she created and brought
a fully-prepared teaching curriculum - to her job interview,
before she had even been chosen as teacher!
Those of you who still remain
in doubt about the benefits of this program have only to take
advantage of the opportunity to see it for yourself. If you cannot
visit Kanayama as a teacher, student chaperone, or private citizen
yourself, you could offer to house a Kanayama guest. Barring
that, you could visit one of the classes that the Kanayama Exchange
Teacher offers at one of Ketchikan's local schools, or ask the
teacher out for lunch or dinner to talk. Find out for yourself
what all the fuss is about. Seeing is believing!
From the heart,
Ketchikan citizen for 27 years, now living and working in Kanayama,
Related Photo Essay:
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
Totem Heritage Center Kanayama Cultural
Photo essay courtesy Ketchikan Museums - March 24, 2004
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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