A grand total of 39 students from Yonezawa Women's Junior College in Colorado's Japanese sister-state, Yamagata Prefecture, are scheduled to visit Arapahoe Community College to participate in an English and culture program from Feb. 8-22.
The two-week study and activity program is organized by Spring International Language Center at ACC, and the young women are slated to reside with Littleton-area families during their stay.
ACC began a sister-school relationship with Yonezawa Women's Junior College (Yamagata, Japan) in 1991 when five cherry trees were presented to Arapahoe Community College by Yamagata Prefecture. This also marked the first visit to Littleton for the Yonezawa students, and the program has been an annual tradition ever since that initial expedition more than 20 years ago.
"One of the most enjoyable activities is an afternoon spent with Littleton High School's Japanese classes," says Connie Shoemaker, program coordinator and Director Emeritus of Spring International. "Aki May (Littleton High School and ACC Japanese language teacher) creates a fun atmosphere for the exchange of Japanese and English conversation practice."
In addition to English classes and interaction with American conversation partners, the students typically visit the 16th Street Mall, the Colorado State Capitol Building, Garden of the Gods and the Outlets at Castle Rock.
Yonezawa students write about their experiences in Denver as part of their class work. These compositions are then compiled in a printed memory book which is distributed at the "sayonara party" to conclude the annual event. Yonezawa students' observations about the differences between life in Japan and life in the U.S. have included comments about the friendliness of people in Colorado. The Yonezawa students also make note of the busy lives that Americans tend to lead.
Host families for the Yonezawa students are recruited by Missy Hull, Spring International's housing coordinator.
"Families are always eager to host the Japanese women and, in spite of the short length of their visit, they become really attached to one another," Hull explained.
For more information about the Spring International Yonezawa program, please contact Spring International's Connie Shoemaker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.797.5617.