SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


In support of the Kanayama Exchange
By Tony Hatano-Worrell


May 14, 2008

For 21 years, Ketchikan has had an outstanding international exchange program with Kanayama, located in Gero City in Japan.

Students and adults who have been privileged to be able to go to Kanayama realize that it is an honor, and not a right, to be able to do so.

Based on mutual friendship, respect, and the desire to better understand each other, it is only natural that the communities on both sides of the Pacific Ocean must be very particular in whom they send as representatives of their countries.

Both communities hold classes for several months before the exchange takes place, and students and adults learn the rules of respect, safety, and commitment necessary for such an important and life-changing experience. Those few who refuse to be committed members of the group, or to abide by its rules of safety and mutual respect, are understandably disallowed from traveling as a representative.

The bonds of friendship that have grown stronger and deeper over the years are a wonderful thing to behold. To think that our two countries were enemies at war not that many years ago and now we have learned to be true, deep friends how amazing!

The light of this candle of friendship has been blazing for all to see for over two decades now. And there are many, many people who have expanded their world views and changed their lives for the better, thanks to the Kanayama Exchange.

Unthinkable as it may seem, there are those who would badmouth this gift of a program simply because they have been disappointed to find that it is indeed necessary to keep the rules of commitment and safety to ensure the privilege of going.

I urge as many of you as have been touched positively by this program to write in support of it, and to speak out in support of its funding which is so necessary to keep the candle blazing brightly.

From the bottom of my heart,

Tony Hatano-Worrell
Kanayama, Gero City, Japan



About: "I was raised in Ketchikan from preschool through Kayhi, and lived there for over 20 years.

In 1987 I was privileged to meet the first exchange group from Kanayama.

I have been a guide and coordinator for the Japanese groups, head chaperone for a Ketchikan group, and have been living in Kanayama and working for the exchange 15 years.

My wife taught in Ketchikan as the exchange teacher from Kanayama during the 1992 to '93 school year, and our family wholeheartedly supports the volunteers in Ketchikan who break their backs to offer this international exchange of friendship to the people of both countries."

Received May 14, 2008 - Published May 14, 2008


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