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Cultural exchanges facilitate global friendships

posted Dec 2, 2009, 8:10 AM by Pete Hage   [ updated Feb 1, 2010, 12:18 PM by tracy smith ]
Since 1993, when Bloomington began a Sister City relationship with Izumi City, Japan, the Bloomington Sister City Organization (BSCO) has promoted international understanding through exchanges of people, information and ideas. Its goals are to establish friendships, build understanding and develop strong relationships.

Community involvement is essential to the program’s success. Resident Dan Royer has been volunteering for BSCO since 2005, when he and his wife Denise hosted Satomi Fujiwara, an exchange student visiting through the BSCO high school exchange program. See photo above. Royer enjoyed the hosting experience so much that he decided to become a BSCO board member.

Shortly after, Royer and his wife visited Satomi at her family’s home in Izumi City as part of the BSCO adult delegation. “About 30 minutes into our visit, a silence fell over the room,” Royer said. “Satomi informed us that her grandmother had just introduced us to her departed ancestors. This was a very big honor. We felt immediately accepted as valued friends.”

Satomi returned to the Royer’s home in 2007 for one year of English language study at the University of St. Thomas. She has since graduated college and is working for the Japanese Travel Bureau in Japan. Royer said that he and his family will be forever grateful to BSCO for introducing them to Satomi and opening doors for a lifetime of cultural exchanges.

“The Bloomington/Izumi City Sister City partnership is so valuable for its people-to-people connections,” Royer said. “The stronger the connections and the more bridges of cultural understanding that are built, the more we all benefit from really getting to know each other.”

Cultural exchanges and hosting opportunities take place every year in Bloomington. For more information, call BSCO at 952-563-8713.
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