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Japanese students recently visited Encinitas as part of the Sister City Student Exchange program. Now, the city is accepting applications for Encinitas youth to spend time in Japan. Courtesy photo/City of Encinitas
Japanese students recently visited Encinitas as part of the Sister City Student Exchange program. Now, the city is accepting applications for Encinitas youth to spend time in Japan. Courtesy photo/City of Encinitas
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Encinitas accepting applications for Sister City student exchange program

ENCINITAS — The city announced it is accepting applications to participate in the annual Sister City Student Exchange program in Japan.

The city’s Sister City Program, which started in 1987 and takes place in Amakusa, Japan, was aimed at fostering understanding between the youth of both countries, according to the city.

This year’s exchange is scheduled to take place from July 23 to Aug. 1. The city said it “will offer an opportunity for students to represent the youth of Encinitas and to immerse themselves in Japanese culture.”

The city is accepting applications until April 19.

The requirements to be eligible include any current ninth or tenth-grade student or a home-schooled student entering the tenth or eleventh grade in fall 2024; holding a valid U.S. passport or the ability to obtain one by travel date; submitting a 500-word essay plus an attached information sheet; and being an Encinitas resident.

The student’s name should only appear on the information sheet, not the essay, as essays will be assigned a number. The essay must be typed or printed, discussing the topic: “Why I Would Like to Visit Our Sister City, Amakusa, Japan, and How My Experience Can Benefit the Sister City Program and the City of Encinitas.”

Selected essay finalists will be required to participate in an oral interview.

The applicant does not need to speak Japanese or enroll in Japanese classes to be eligible. Two letters of recommendation (one from a school official or employer and another from a community member) are required.

Selected students and their families will be asked to participate in Sister City functions for 12 months after their visit. Families are required to host a Japanese student the following summer.

“Since its inception in 1987, the Encinitas Sister City Program has played a vital role in connecting our community with cities around the world, including the formalized relationship with Hondo, Japan, which has now become the city of Amakusa,” the city said.

Chosen student delegates will have a chance to experience life in Amakusa by staying with a host, engaging in cultural activities and forming friendships with new families.

“My experience as a delegate pushed me to grow in a mindset of flexibility when approaching unknown situations, especially when living in and adapting to a foreign culture,” former Encinitas delegate Isaac Trotta said.

The trip includes airfare, lodging, and homestay accommodations for nine days.

“This invaluable experience promises to broaden students’ horizons, enhance their cultural awareness, and foster lifelong connections between Encinitas and Amakusa,” the city said.

Encinitas has sent delegates of students, nurses, firefighters, leaders, government officials and others to Amakusa to learn about Japanese culture. 

“Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in a meaningful cultural exchange experience,” the city added.

Applications must be complete and received by April 19 at 4 p.m. An application from the city’s website can be downloaded at www.encinitasca.gov/community/about-encinitas/sister-city.

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