The Burbank Sister City committee has opened applications for high school students residing in the city who wish to join a group traveling to Ota, Japan in the summer of 2022.
The original group of 12 students and two chaperones were selected in the fall of 2019 to prepare for a two-week tour in the summer of 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic intervened and the student exchange program’s trip to Ota has been rescheduled, first in the summer of 2021, and more recently in the summer of 2022, due to the continuing impact of the pandemic.
Several students who were selected for the Ota 2020 trip are still planning to travel in 2022. However, there are some places for other students to join the trip. The deadline for student applications is October 15, 2021.
The aim of the program is to promote communication, goodwill and cultural awareness, as well as foster closer relations as sister cities by providing the possibility of better understanding between people from different countries.
Students must be residents of Burbank, enrolled in Grades 9-12, and their families must agree to host a visiting 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 several decades, a small group of 12 students, plus two adult chaperones, travel to Ota, Japan, or Incheon, Korea, each summer to stay in residences and experience life in each of these cities for two weeks.
After the Burbank students’ trip abroad, a few weeks later, a delegation of student travelers and their escorts from Ota or Incheon visit families in Burbank for a similar experience of life in Burbank, in California. Ota and Incheon alternate summer trips with Burbank. The summer when Burbank students visit Ota, Incheon students visit. The following summer, when Burbank students visit Incheon, Ota students visit.
Burbank has established twin 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 exchanges 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 raising awareness and bringing people together,” said Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos. “Exchanges with Ota, Japan, and Incheon, Korea, provide our Burbank students with a unique opportunity each summer to live with a family in another country and experience everyday life, as well as welcoming students from Sister City in their own homes.
“City Council appreciates the partnership of the Twin City of Burbank Committee, made up of volunteers, in maintaining these wonderful exchanges year after year,” added Frutos.
“My trip to Incheon, Korea was amazing,” commented Nuala Giffen, senior at John Burroughs High School, who traveled with the Burbank delegation in the summer of 2019. “At first it was very difficult because it was was difficult 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 got to learn so much about Korean culture.” she said. “I stayed with two different families who showed me their everyday life and introduced me to a ton of new foods. There was definitely culture shock from things like different showers, different cooking utensils, and also being able to walk outside at night alone. I have been able to connect with so many different individuals and learn so much about them. We got to talk about school, college and hobbies and also bond around the TV shows we watched together.
“During the day, we went on group excursions,” Giffen continued. “One day, we visited the DMZ which is the area between North Korea and South Korea. There we learned a lot about history and also got to go down 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 field trip 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 a lot about their culture.
Visit www.burbanksistercity.org for more information and student applications. The next Burbank Sister City committee meeting will be held on 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.