Sister City - Nagano, Japan
"The men and women participating actively in the Sister City Program do more than talk about world understanding, they are contributing their ideas, resources and brotherhood to improve international understanding on a planet that grows smaller with each count-down." - Edward R. Murrow
Visit the Nagano City Web site
Clearwater, Florida has enjoyed Sister City relations with Nagano, Japan since 1959 when Mayor Kurashima of Nagano came to the United States. He was searching for a city with similar economic and community needs and wished to develop new friendships, ideas and business partnerships.
The ancient Zenkoji Temple located in Nagano, Japan and the beaches of Clearwater both attract large numbers of tourists each year. Mayor Kurashima saw the great potential of a shared bond between the two cities.
The exchanges have grown through the years. The current Mayor of Nagano, Mayor Shoichi Washizawa, is extremely committed to continuous interaction, which has resulted in cultural understanding, immeasurable friendships and the enhancement of the Sister City program.The teacher and student exchanges have been the backbone of the Sister City Program. Every year Nagano sends two teachers for a one month working visitation. The teachers are placed with volunteer homestay families and Pinellas County School System coordinates the school schedule. Nagano also sends a group of middle school students and subsequently another group of high school students for one week of homestay and school visitation in Clearwater.
The Pinellas School Board of Education teacher exchange program began in 1983. Currently, two teachers are sent for one month in the summer to live with a homestay and teach English at several schools. The student exchange program, initiated in 1990, comprises a group of four students and a teacher/chaperone. Their purpose is to attend middle schools, give presentations, interact with students and enjoy life with a homestay family. Students previously stayed in Nagano for one month. Starting in 2005, the length of stay was changed to two weeks.
These mutually beneficial exchanges have had an extremely positive impact in promoting and nurturing cross-cultural relations in educational and community arenas. Long lasting friendships, deeper understanding and appreciation for our respective cultures are the bonds that connect our cities and make us one.