Duluth Welcomes Students from Sister City in Japan

Amy Adamle
August 07, 2017 09:07 AM

It all started with the gift of a bell from a city in Japan years ago.  In 1992, Duluth and Ohara Isumi-City, Japan, became sister cities and started an exchange program.  

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Now, they are celebrating 25 years of students crossing the language barrier and making friendships across borders.

"Every other year we do exchanges with middle school age kids and they form relationships with each other and they learn," Wendy Ruhnke, Duluth Sister Cities Board President, said.

Twelve students from Japan arrived Saturday night and will experience Duluth this week.

"You go to a new sister city and you meet people that are so different and they love you already," Ruhnke said. 

The students learn about each other and make memories that last a lifetime.

"Most importantly they learn how things are in another culture and it changes their lives forever," Ruhnke said. 

Students that have gone to Japan with the program get to share their own culture.  

"It's fun to see how their faces change when they drive around canal park or drive around downtown they get to see a different part of the world," Marcos Woodward, who went to Japan last year, said.  

Woodward said it changed his life as well. 

"I think this helped me get out of my box, experience new things, meet new people kind of just like and see different things than I'm used to here in Duluth," Woodward said.  

It teaches them about more than just culture.

"It's person to person diplomacy and that's what sister cities is all about," Ruhnke said. 

Ohara Isumi-City, Japan is one of Duluth's five sister cities.  Duluth Sister Cities International is working on doing more fundraising in the future to make the sister city trips available to more people. 


Amy Adamle

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