Robert McQuillan

Fundraising finished for this year’s Ohtaki delegation

10 Lake Cowichan students will soon head to Ohtaki, Japan.

With fundraising now finished and July quickly approaching, a group of students from Lake Cowichan School are now getting ready to make the annual excursion to Lake Cowichan’s sister town of Ohtaki, Japan, where they will represent our town while sightseeing and experiencing Japanese culture on the way.

The group of ten students worked year-round to raise money for the trip, which costs $2400 for each student. While the families of the students typically pay $600 to 1000 for the trip, the remaining cost is raised by the students themselves. This year, the young delegates sold Purdy’s chocolates, hot dogs, baked goods and Christmas crafts, as well as holding two bottle drives, the annual Junk in the Trunk event, a meat sale, a raffle for Vancouver Canucks tickets and also teamed up with the Cowichan Lake and District Chamber of Commerce for a metal drive.

Along with the ten students, ages 15 to 17, four more delegates will be joining them on the trip: councillor Tim McGonigle, councillor Lorna Vomacka, and former LCS teachers Duncan Brown and Mark Davis.

The delegation will begin their trip in Ohtaki itself, where they will attend a banquet celebrating the relationship between the two towns, as well as visiting the town hall and schools of Ohtaki. While in Ohtaki, the delegates will be staying with homestay families for the week.

“The Ohtaki kids came here in October, and stayed with families here,” organizer Kristy Convery said. “So a lot of the kids on the trip will be staying with the families of the kids that stayed with them last year.”

“Your homestay family won’t let you spend any money, they are very generous people,” Mayor Ross Forrest, who went with the delegation last year, said. “I wasn’t looking forward to going to Japan too much [in 2013], but it was well worth the effort. We had a very special 10 days and I would go again in a heartbeat. It’s a great experience for the kids.”

After leaving Ohtaki, the group will head for Sapporo, and make stops at a volcano, waterfall and Buddhist shrine before heading to Tokyo.

“The trip is a bit different each time,” Convery said.

The delegation will also be presenting a gift to the Town of Ohtaki — a First Nations sculpture carved from yellow cedar that Robert McQuillan, one of the students going on the trip, received from his grandmother. Yellow cedar is a prized material in Japan.

“The kids were really excited once the airfare was purchased,” Convery said. “I think that once we had everything in place the reality hit them. It’s been a long year of planning and fundraising.”

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