TROY — Sayonara, dear friends.
More than 6,729 miles may separate them, but Troy and Takahashi City students quickly formed friendships and made memories which will last a lifetime last week.
On Wednesday, Troy students shared their experiences of hosting their Japanese students from the city’s sister city of Takahashi City, Japan, during a farewell party at St. Patrick Church Parish Center.
Takahashi City teacher Ichiro Otsuki said his students and others in the cultural exchange delegation were very thankful for the opportunity to visit Troy.
“This experience will be one of the most wonderful in their life,” Otsuki said. “I’ve have been treated kindly by the host people and by the people of Troy. No doubt the students are feeling the same.”
Otsuki said all of his students enjoyed their visit to Troy and thanked the host families for their hospitality.
“We will always remember this experience. We will treasure these memories for our entire lives,” Otsuki said.
Takahashi City teacher Takae Kojima shared how it was her third time visiting Troy.
“Every time I find new things. People. Things like shops and restaurants and every time I notice (your) beautiful, green city and kind and friendly people,” she said. Kojima said she appreciated the city of Troy for the opportunity to stay with host families and thanked her hosts Naomi and Norman Brown for their hospitality.
Noelle Dexter shared her experience of sharing her home with her four siblings with Haruka Oya, who is an only child.
Dexter said it was hard for her to choose her favorite memory of their time together with Oya, and felt that Haruka is now part of the Dexter family.
“In Japan, she’s an only child. In Troy, she now has five sisters and one brother,” she said.
Dexter shared the many activities she was able to share with Oya in the short days they were in Troy.
“Haruka had a lot of fun the first time she jumped on the trampoline and going four-wheeling at my grandparents’,” Dexter said. “We both enjoyed playing laser tag when all the students played.”
Dexter said through the student exchange, she believes all the Troy students now have a better understanding about what it is like to be a teenager in Japan and their culture and vice versa.
Shogo Uchida and Tomoya Hirai stayed with Troy’s Bennett Lowry during the student exchange.
Lowry said he took the pair around the city of Troy as well as to regional places like Kings Island .
“I liked taking them to Kings Island and seeing how they liked the rides,” Lowry said. “It was a learning experience just with the language barrier.”
Uchida and Hiarai shared their culture with the Lowry family including their customary outfits.
“We liked, very much, the games. And pizza,” Hiari said. Hiari spoke on behalf of the student delegation, thanking the host families for their hospitality.
“We really don’t really want to say goodbye. We have lots of great memories. Thank you so much,” Hiari said.
The students ended their goodbye party with the traditional dance-off. The Takahashi City students showed Troy students their traditional Matsuyama Dance, a popular circle dance which is more than 300 years old. The Troy students then showed their new friends how do “The Hokey Pokey.”
The following Takahashi City students stayed with the following Troy students during the cultural exchange: Takeru Omoto and Eric Trimble; Haruka Oya and Noelle Dexter; Tatsuya Ishii and Sean Terando; Shogo Uchida, Tomoya Hirai and Bennett Lowry; Sayo Okuda, Mizuki Arata and Anna Boezi; Wakaba Mimura and Rebekah Katwyk; Yoshihiro Seki and Nick Neumeier; Ichiro Otsuki (teacher) and Teckla and Jim Dando; Takae Kojima (teacher) and Naomi and Norman Brown; and Shigehiro Nigo and Peggy and Larry Wolke.
Reach Melanie Yingst at myingst@troydailynews or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews