This year’s Ohtaki delegation arrived in Lake Cowichan on the afternoon of Oct. 6 and were welcomed by their homestay hosts and mayor and council of the Town of Lake Cowichan.
The delegates had a busy four days, taking in such sights as the large hockey stick in Duncan, the Kinsol Trestle and the fish ladders at Skutz Falls. They also did some bowling at Youbou Lanes, and the students got to participate in classes at Lake Cowichan Secondary School.
Through it all, Mayor Ross Forrest didn’t miss a beat, he says he took days off from work to participate in activities and act as a guide throughout the delegation’s stay.
Forrest and his wife Tracy had two of the delegation stay at their home during the visit, Tetsuya Takekawa, the CAO of Ohtaki, and Aki Kato, who spoke some English and acted as translator.
“Tracy and I really enjoyed having them,” said Forrest. “And you know what, I learned a lot in conversation with them. So many similarities between our communities and economies and you name it. They have the very same challenges as we do.”
He says the highlight of the visit for him was having the opportunity to learn about each others’ cultures.
He also enjoyed the banquet that took place on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at Centennial Hall.
“The whole student delegation sang a song and man they practiced it cause it was unbelievable.”
Unfortunately, the delegation had to sing without the music they had practiced to, but Forrest says this didn’t make a difference, they still performed incredibly. He adds that the entertainment, organized by Laurie Johnson, was also fabulous, and the Ohtaki delegates seemed to really enjoy it, along with meeting the Ladies of the Lake.
Justine Carlow, an LCSS student who had planned to go to Japan as part of the Lake Cowichan delegation in 2011, says she was honored to present a cheque for $1,300 to the delegation, funds that were raised by her group after the tsunami hit the country in March of that year.
“It felt good to give it to them,” said Carlow. “And I was glad to be chosen as the one to do so.”
These funds will go towards those who are suffering from radiation burns and any medical supplies that may be needed.