For the last couple of years, the towns of Hanna, Alberta and Wake, Japan have been sending young people back and forth across the Pacific Ocean to get a taste of life on the other side. It looks like that will continue.
"Wake has found it very positive and they have already contacted our mayor and CAO to indicate that they would like to go again this summer," reported Gwen Snell, Hanna's Director of Community Services. "We're starting to try and get some interest going again."
Last year, four Japanese students and a chaperone traveled to Hanna from the town of 14,000 midway between Osaka and Hiroshima.
"They certainly enjoy anything and everything that we can do with them," stated Snell. "We've had everything from branding parties to Prairie Oasis (Park) water skiing to taking them to a family wedding. You can't get much more immersed in culture than that."
Abigail Warwick and Kali Richardson returned the favour last August, spending three weeks in Japan.
"Abigail had a time, her and her friends, but it was, I think, perhaps a little added pressure for the Japanese families because they feel a great deal of honour for a respected position within the community, so when it's the mayor's daughter they're feeling a lilttle more pressure," she noted.
Snell admits it was a little difficult for the Hanna girls being so far away from home, but adds in the end, everybody felt it was worth the adventure.