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The practice of twinning cities has been around for a very long time, with the oldest recorded example dating back to 836 AD. Since that time, the idea has spread to include more than 2,000 cities and states in more than 135 countries around the world.
Thirty-three years ago, the concept arrived in Campbell River when they twinned with Ishikari, Japan. For Sue Hall, and for scores of others, it was an initiative that forever changed their lives.
“I was with the third group of exchange students to go to Ishikari for the year and the experience was incredible. I became part of another family that treated me as a daughter,” explained Hall.
Hall’s “adoptive family” became an enduring part of her life.
“It’s an experience that leaves footprints on your heart,” said Hall, adding that her experience wasn’t unique.
“We had a young man, Daniel Harry, who went to Japan and received an offer of a judo scholarship. He returned there for university. In another case, Yuka, a student from Ishikari met a young man in Campbell River, stayed in touch and eventually married. They have just had their first child-a perfect little girl named Emma.” said Hall.
The Campbell River Twinning Society is now searching for the next pair of students in search of the experience of a lifetime. They hope to have their students selected by May 20th and, as such, are inviting interested candidates to immediately contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submission is May 13th.
“It’s incredibly affordable, opportunity,” explained Hall. “With travel and spending money included, it’s about $3,500 for the year’s experience. We’re always looking for new members this is a great opportunity to learn about another part of the world”.
She said exchange programs like the one in Campbell River are more important than ever.
“This program really open’s the eyes…and the minds…of our young people. These kids are the future.”
As for Hall, she’s looking forward to a trip back to Ishikari in July. She’s going to meet her daughter, who is currently following in her mother’s footsteps and is just finishing her own year long stay in Ishikari.
She’ll be returning with footprints on her own heart.