SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Kanayama Exchange a 20-year tradition
By Pat Perrier



June 15, 2007
Friday PM

This year marks the 20th year of the international exchange between Ketchikan and Kanayama (now, actually Gero, Japan, of which Kanayama belongs to). What a tradition to be proud of! What began with planning in 1986 and became a reality in 1987 has blossomed into a program which has enriched several hundred students, teachers, and families. Many of the friendships forged twenty years ago are still alive today, despite changes in both towns. Ketchikan lost its pulp mill and large timber industry and became much more a tourist center. Kanayama also saw economic hardships and merged (along with five other small towns) into the greater Gero City. Both communities have people committed to keeping this program alive. In Alaska, our exchange of both students and teachers is the longest-running one still in existence; in Japan, even the Japan International Exchange Organization in Tokyo has noted our success and wondered how we do it.

In a few weeks, Ketchikan will be host to a celebration of our tradition, and this event will include the dignitaries from Gero City and Kanayama, as well as the White Dragon Drummers from Kanayama. Our success would not have happened without our community involvement and support, and we invite you to help us celebrate.

On July 3rd, the drummers will perform free at the Plaza Mall at 12 noon. Then, at 4 pm, they will hold a drum workshop at Saxman. This workshop will be space-limited to 20 people, and reservations for the workshop can be made through the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council; the cost will be $10 per person. In the evening, there will be a Multicultural concert at Saxman Tribal House beginning at 7 pm; tickets are $5 and can be purchased through the Arts Council or MacPherson's Music.

On July 4th, look for the drummers in the July 4th Parade. There will also be a tree-planting at Schoenbar Middle School at 2 pm.

On July 5th, there will be reunion party for anyone who's been involved in the exchange program over the last 20 years (students, teachers, chaperones, homestays, past and present board members, etc.), beginning at 11 am at the US Coast Guard Crow's Nest. It will be a BBQ/potluck with meat provided; those attending can bring a dish of their choice, and any stories, memories, and photos of their exchange experience. At 6:30 pm, the White Dragon Drummers will hold a concert for the community at the Ted Ferry Civic Center; cost is $15 and tickets can be purchased from the Arts Council or at the door.

Please join in our celebration, and thank you, Ketchikan, for your continued support!

Pat Perrier
Representing all the members of the Ketchikan-Kanayama Exchange Association
Ketchikan, AK

Received June 15, 2007 - Published June 15, 2007



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Ketchikan, Alaska