By Lisa Carolin
Five Shimizu exchange students and their chaperone have maintained a busy pace during their visit to Chelsea that could compete with a presidential candidate. They even made time to meet up with Mayor Jason Lindauer at the Chelsea TreeHouse on March 30.
The students are on a two-week break from their school located in Shimizu, Japan and will start ninth-grade when they return home. They are part of the exchange program between the two cities that began in 1993.
“That’s when Deborah and Bruce Oakley‘s son Brian was an English teacher at Shimizu Middle School,” explained Chris Frayer, a coach in the program, who has visited Shimizu three times. “Brian thought Shimizu reminded him of Chelsea, and he encouraged the exchange program.”
The visiting students and chaperones stay with host families.
“Host families set up the schedule each year based on their love of the area and things they want their guests to experience,” said Frayer.
Their activities have included a walking tour of Chelsea, visiting local businesses, going to Chelsea High School, attending a CHS girls soccer game, as well as visiting the University of Michigan Big House, Tiger Stadium, and the Detroit Institutes of Arts Museum.
The Sister City Association of Chelsea runs the exchange program with the intent, “to further international understanding that contributes to goodwill, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence.”
More than 200 students from Chelsea have participated in the program.
“Chelsea has seven students and two chaperones scheduled to visit Shimizu in June,” said Frayer, who encourages seventh and eighth-grade students interested in the program to apply. “Students who apply are typically interested in the Japanese culture, love to travel, and are open to new experiences.”
They will be in Japan for 10 days and live with host families in the town of Shimizu, which is located on Hokkaido, the northern island.