The delegation arriving from Lake Cowichan’s sister village of Ohtaki this October could well be the biggest one yet.
Between 28 to 30 people will arrive in town and be here from October 4 to 8.
“It’s a very big delegation,” said Mayor Ross Forrest at last week’s Ohtaki Twinning Committee meeting at the town hall. “There will be 19 kids, three office staff, four teachers and some more adults.”
One of the adults who could potentially fly out from Japan is Ohtaki’s own mayor.
“We will be going again in July 2015 and we’ll be taking a bigger delegation this time as well,” said Forrest. “It comes around quickly. Last time, the kids that went did a really good job of fundraising and most of them covered their expenses.”
At the meeting, Forrest stated that he believed it to be one of the busiest Ohtaki meetings ever, with various parents and children heading to Japan next summer coming out to attain further information.
The trip is predicted to cost each student just over $2,500.
“Your homestay family won’t let you spend any money, they are very generous people,” Forrest told all those in attendance. “I wasn’t looking forward to going to Japan too much the last time, 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.”
On the homestay front and seemingly with such a large delegation arriving in October, the town is still actively looking for more families willing to put up some of the arrivals for the four days.
“We’re requiring quite a few homestay families this year,” said Forrest. “It’s not mandatory to be a homestay if your kids are going to Ohtaki but it’s a good opportunity to learn and the kids get to know each other. We do have some stuff planned to take the delegation out quite a lot of the time. They’ll be going to the school and we have trips planned elsewhere. You don’t have to look after them all the time, they’ll be busy.”
A welcome BBQ will be hosted by the town on Saturday October 4 at the fire hall and a banquet will be staged at Centennial Hall Tuesday October 7.
“It’s not an onerous thing other than you have to give them a place to sleep. There is a little expense in terms of buying gifts as they are gift giving culture, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.”
Coun. Tim McGonigle also insisted that potential homestay families need not worry about the language barrier.
“You don’t have to learn the language,” said McGonigle. “There’s a conversation app for that. People learn how to engage and it’s great to see.”
“Last time I had an hour long conversation with a Japanese man just by using my iPad and we spent the whole time laughing. The language [barrier] is not a problem.”