‘Sister Cities’ Program Opens Applications for Japan Trip

The Burbank Sister City Committee has opened applications for resident high school students who are interested to join a group traveling to Ota, Japan, in summer 2022.
Although the 2020 Ota trip was canceled due to the pandemic, several students who were selected for the trip are still planning to travel in 2022 with additional spaces available for students to join the trip. The deadline for student applications is Oct. 15.
The program’s purpose, according to a news release, is to promote communication, goodwill and cultural awareness, as well as foster closer relationships as sister cities by offering the opportunity of better understanding between people of different countries.
Students must be Burbank residents enrolled in grades 9-12 and their families must agree to host a visiting student or chaperone for two weeks of the subsequent two summers. If selected for travel, students must commit to a minimum two-year active role with the BSCC.
For more than three decades, a small group of approximately 12 students, plus two adult chaperones, travel to either Ota, Japan, or Incheon, Korea, every summer to stay in residential homes and experience life in each of those cities for two weeks. After Burbank students travel abroad, a few weeks later, a visiting delegation of student travelers and their chaperones from either Ota or Incheon visit Burbank families for a similar experience of life in Burbank.
Burbank has established Sister City partnerships with four cities since 1960: Solna, Sweden (1960); Incheon, Korea (1961); Gaborone, Botswana (1975); and Ota, Japan (1984). The Student Exchange Program is specifically set up for travel exchanges with Ota and Incheon.
“To promote these partnerships, the Burbank Sister City Committee strives to stimulate cultural and educational exchanges through community volunteers,” said BSCC President James Callahan, whose daughters participated in the Student Exchange Program in previous years.
“[Traveling to Incheon] was a phenomenal experience and I was able to learn so much about Korean culture,” added John Burroughs High School senior Nuala Giffen, who traveled with the Burbank delegation in summer 2019. “I stayed with two different families who showed me their everyday lives and introduced me to a ton of new foods. I got to form connections with so many different individuals and learn so much about them. We were able to talk about schooling, college and hobbies and also bond over TV shows we watched together.”
Visit burbanksistercity.org for more information and student applications. The Burbank Sister City Committee’s next meeting is Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Branch of the Burbank Public Library.