PASADENA — Making new friends, learning Japanese language and culture, sharing your home and your interests — that’s what Friendship 2013 is about.
For the past 11 years, the Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute (PJCI) and the City of Mishima have supported the youth exchange program, which fosters youth understanding between the U.S. and Japan while strengthening the US-Japan relationship.
PJCI board member Bryan Takeda has worked on this program with Pasadena’s sister city of Mishima since a personal visit to the city in 2000. In early 2001, the City of Mishima and Shizuoka Prefecture invited several youth from the Pasadena area to participate in an International Summer Camp at Mt. Fuji. Several teenagers and two chaperones, including Takeda, joined two college exchange students from Pasadena for a week of activities and experiences of a lifetime with new friends from the U.S., China, Canada and New Zealand.
Following the camp, Takeda met with Mishima Mayor Masaomi Koike to discuss the success of the international program and to explore ways to strengthen the relationship between the two cities.
Takeda mentioned how great it would be to host a youth group from Mishima for a summer exchange program in Pasadena. Koike seized the opportunity and promised to send 15 Mishima students to Pasadena the following summer. With Koike’s support and with the support of the PJCI and the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee, Takeda launched the Friendship 2002 Pasadena-Mishima Summer Youth Program.
Since that time, over 150 youth from Pasadena and Mishima have participated in the program. Many continue to stay in contact with one another to share their life experiences through college, early career and even marriage.
During Friendship 2013, students from Mishima will visit Pasadena from Aug. 1 to 8. Highlights of this year’s program include a trip to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, a live KTLA Morning Show telecast, an Angels baseball game, a beach outing, the Gardena Obon Festival, and private tours of the Japanese American National Museum and the newly renovated Rose Bowl.
To participate and/or host a student this year or if you are interested in travel to Japan in 2014, contact Takeda at [email protected] or call (626) 396-9927. Space is limited and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.