Thank you to all for all you did – especially the host families!
Ron Ture, Ebetsu exchange co-chair
Gresham-Ebetsu Sister City Association
As in years past, the GESCA high school student exchange began in the fall, when Barry Busse and Byerly Woodward collected host family applications from both Gresham High School and Reynolds High School students. They then matched host families with the applications from the three students from Ebetsu. They selected Laurel from GHS to host Koharu, Anne from GHS to host Mayu, and Rebecca from RHS to host Rin. On December 1, 2018, GESCA treated the three host families to lunch at Meeka Sushi restaurant in Gresham. This event helps the host families get to know each other and prepare to host the students when they arrive in January. Two new ideas arose from this event. One, that the students from Ebetsu volunteer at Tsuru Island on one Saturday to get to know more about what we do. And two, that the students from Ebetsu be ready to go to some elementary schools in Gresham and talk about Japanese culture.
On Thursday January 10, 2019, Koharu, Mayu and Rin were welcomed at PDX airport by the three host families and by Barry and Ron. After one day at school, they came to Tsuru Island on Saturday January 12 and helped prune some plants under the guidance of Jim Card. Then, Rie Nakata gave the students an excellent one-hour orientation about life in America.
During the next two weeks, the three girls from Ebetsu attended school and lived with their host families. GESCA was not involved, and everything seemed to go smoothly. Meanwhile, Ron lined up activities for the three girls during the week that the hosts had final exams.
On Monday January 28, Barry Busse and Tomiko Takeuchi took the three girls to the Oregon coast. They spent the entire time in Seaside, which was much more relaxing than trying to include a visit to Tillamook as in years past. They did a lot of shopping, sightseeing, and had lunch at Dooger’s.
On Tuesday January 29, Ron Ture and Eileen Holzman first took the three girls to Richmond Elementary School in Portland, where they spoke in Japanese with students who are immersed in a bilingual Japanese-English program. Then we took them to West Gresham Elementary School, where they made similar presentations, but this time in English. They did a good job demonstrating origami, using chopsticks, and speaking about unique Japanese products.
On Wednesday January 30, Ron and Yoshiko Ture took them on a whirlwind tour of Gresham: first to Tsuru Island and Ebetsu Plaza with Jim Card, then to City Hall with Kirk French, who led us from the fire department to the school administration to meeting Mayor Bemis to the police department, all before lunch. After lunch at MOD pizza, we took them to East Orient Elementary School, where they repeated the various presentations they made the previous day, but this time in a more polished way. As we took them back to their schools, they said they were totally exhausted!
On Thursday January 31, John Harrold and Yoshiko Ture took them on a tour of the Gorge. They stopped at the Vista House, at Multnomah Falls, at the fish hatchery at Bonneville Dam, had lunch in Cascade Locks, and finished the day shopping at Walmart.
Then, after spending their fourth week with their host families, the three girls from Ebetsu returned home on Friday February 8. Barry and Byerly saw them off, together with the host families. Everyone seemed to enjoy this year’s exchange of cultures.