The Burbank Sister City Committee has opened applications for high school students residing in the city to join a group traveling to Ota, Japan in the summer of 2022.
The initial group of 12 students and two chaperones were selected in fall 2019 to prepare for a two-week tour in summer 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic intervened and the student exchange program trip in Ota has been postponed, first to summer 2021, and more recently to summer 2022, due to the continued impact of the pandemic.
Several students who have been selected for the Ota 2020 trip are still planning to travel in 2022. However, there are a few places left for additional students to join the trip. The student application deadline is October 15, 2021.
The goal of the program is to promote communication, goodwill, and cultural awareness, as well as foster closer relationships as sister cities by providing the opportunity for greater understanding between people from different countries.
Students must be Burbank residents, enrolled in grades 9 through 12, and their families must agree to host a guest student or chaperone for two weeks over the next two summers. If selected to travel, students and their families must commit to an active role of at least two years with the BSCC.
For the past few decades, a small group of 12 students, plus two adult chaperones, travel each summer to Ota, Japan, or Incheon, Korea, to stay in residences and experience life in each of those cities for two weeks.
After the Burbank students travel abroad, a few weeks later, a delegation of traveling students and their chaperones from Ota or Incheon visit Burbank families for a similar experience of life in Burbank, California. . Ota and Incheon alternate summer trips with Burbank. The summer when students from Burbank visit Ota, students from Incheon visit. The following summer, when students from Burbank visit Incheon, students from Ota visit.
Burbank has established Sister City partnerships with four cities since 1960: Solna, Sweden (1960), Incheon, Korea (1961), Gaborone, Botswana (1975), and Ota, Japan (1984.) The student exchange program is specifically set up for travel exchanges with Ota and Incheon.
“To promote these partnerships, the Burbank Sister City Committee strives to stimulate cultural and educational exchange through community volunteers,” commented BSCC President James Callahan, whose daughters participated in the exchange program. students in previous years.
“Burbank’s relationship with our four sister cities has long enriched our community by spreading global awareness and bringing people together,” commented Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos. “The exchanges with Ota, Japan and Incheon, Korea each summer provide our Burbank students with a unique opportunity to live with a family in another country and experience daily life, as well as host students from Sister City in their own homes”.
“The City Council appreciates the partnership of the all-volunteer Burbank Sister City Committee in maintaining these wonderful exchanges year after year,” Frutos added.
“My trip to Incheon, Korea was amazing,” commented John Burroughs High School senior Nuala Giffen, who traveled with the Burbank delegation in the summer of 2019. It was hard to understand each other but with the power of Google Translate we were able to communicate very effectively.”
“It was a phenomenal experience and I was able to learn a lot about Korean culture.” she said. “I stayed with two different families who showed me their daily lives and introduced me to a ton of new foods. There was definitely a culture shock due to things like different showers, different cooking utensils and also being able to walk outside alone at night. I was able to connect with so many different individuals and learn so much about them. We were able to talk about school, college and hobbies and also bond over TV shows we watched together.
“During the days, we would go on group excursions,” Giffen continued. “One day, we visited the DMZ which is the area that separates North Korea and South Korea. There we learned a lot about history and we also got to go down into the tunnels that North Korea had dug when they tried to attack. It was crazy. I also looked through telescopes and could see people on the other side of the North Korean military.
“Another excursion that I really enjoyed was going to Seoul wearing their traditional hanbok clothes. It gave me a real appreciation for their culture. Overall the trip was such a fun experience I made so many friends, tried amazing dishes and learned so much about their culture.
Visit www.burbanksistercity.org for more information and student applications. The next meeting of the Burbank Sister City Committee will be Monday, September 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Branch of the Burbank Public Library, located at 110 N. Glenoaks Boulevard in Burbank.