Four applicants to the Ohtaki Twinning Exchange Program were approved by council to travel to Ohtaki Japan next July.
These students include Alexandra Werk, Jacklyn Roach, Crystal Bell, and Lynn Ketch.
Coun. Jayne Ingram, who will be traveling with the group, says the committee is still looking for more students.
“We are hoping in September to start talking to kids at the school (Lake Cowichan Secondary). We would like to drum up more interest from students who would like to travel to another culture,” said Ingram.
The parent committee and delegates traveling to Japan raise all their own funds for the trip. “The cost is approximately $2,500. Part of that $2,500 helps pay for the supervisors,” said Ingram. “The goal is to raise as much money as possible fundraising in the community.”
This fundraising will begin as early in the fall semester as possible.
“Because of the lack of kids we need to get that moving first,” said Ingram.
Once all delegates have been approved then the parent committee, chaperones and students can start their fundraising efforts in earnest.
“The timeline became so quick this year,” said Ingram. “We’re all so busy, but it will all fall into place.”
Roach, a 14-year-old local youth, says she was inspired to take part because her brother went with their mom a couple of years ago.
“We were supposed to go in 2011,” she said. “But then there was the earthquake (and tsunami).”
Roach says she has never traveled further afield than Calgary, and so this will be a whole new experience.
She says she is looking forward to traveling to Japan with the whole group, seeing the architecture, and meeting new people.
She is also looking forward to seeing one of the students who came to Lake Cowichan as part of the program last year and a few years before.
“I have close friends (from the group),” she said.
Part of the experience, says Roach, will be one of growing up.
“I want to get used to new things and being away from my parents for that long.”
To prepare for the journey, Roach says she is getting a lot of advice from her mom, Roni, who has been an integral part of the program from its beginning.
“She’s telling me a lot of things, like what to do and what not to do.”
Roach also has a Japanese/English dictionary to help her navigate through the language barrier and says that when one of her friends from Japan returns this October, she will be helping Roach learn some of the language as well.
Though like most youth her age, Roach hasn’t figured out what she wants to do career wise upon graduation, she says she has been encouraged by her mom and others to become a translator.
“Some people have commented that I have a good memory,” she said, and adds that learning new languages might be more fun than actual school.
Roach has been saving money for the trip since before last year’s trip got cancelled, and she says she has a few things in mind in terms of gifts to bring back for her friends and family.
“I have Christmas money, about $500 Canadian to spend, which is a lot in yen. I want to get a wood carving of a bear for my dad and I will probably go to the 100 yen store and get a bunch of unique things for my friends.”
She says she got the idea to go to the 100 yen store from some of the students from Japan who have visited Lake Cowichan.
“I have some things my homestays bought me so I’ll be keeping that in mind. Akari, who was our homestay last year, bought me a bunch of things, so I will try and look for those.”
The Ohtaki Twinning Committee needs a couple more homestay hosts for the delegation coming in the fall, so if you have an interest in opening your home to the delegation coming in October, or if your child is interested in traveling with the delegation in July of next year, contact the town office at 250-749-6681.