Student Exchange Program

Midland Students Return from 2019 Sister City Student Exchange in Japan

Three Midland high school girls stand in front of a Japanese temple

The three Midland students selected for the 2019 Sister City Student Exchange - H.H. Dow High School senior Abigail Hnizda, homeschool senior Deborah Lehman, and Midland High School senior Luca Jolly - have returned from their 3-week trip to Handa, Japan in July and August 2019. 

Students enjoyed week-long stays with three host families apiece, as well as group activities including a boat ride, a vinegar museum tour, a sightseeing trip to Kyoto, and a meeting with the mayor and Council of Handa. Each ambassador had the opportunity to learn about Japanese customs, cuisine, student life in Japan, and hobbies and activities that are popular with young people in Handa! Check out the slideshow below for a few photos from their trip.

The students will also share information about their experiences with the Midland City Council and the Midland community at the City Council meeting on Monday, August 26, 2019 at 7 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. Please plan to attend to hear more! Video of the meeting will be posted here after the meeting has completed.

About the Program

A Japanese family with their Midland exchange student

What's It All About?

Every year, the cities of Handa, Japan, and Midland, Michigan take part in an exchange of high school students. During odd-numbered years, Midland sends students to Handa; during even-numbered years, Handa students visit Midland. The purpose of the exchange is to build friendships between sister cities, and to provide an opportunity for youth to experience a different culture.

Capitol visit

How Does It Work?

Whether Midland is sending or receiving students, each participant stays with host families during their 3-week stay. These host families help the students immerse themselves into the culture of their host country by coordinating fun activities, cooking meals, and sharing their families' day-to-day lives. In addition, the Sister City program in each country provides a schedule of events and activities for the entire group to participate in together.

Representatives from both Handa City and Midland City government, as well as committees from both countries, serve as liaisons for the students and their host families as they participate in the program. Travel accommodations are provided by the committee and there is no cost to participate - the only out-of-pocket cost to traveling students is the spending money they bring for food, gifts, and entertainment. Everything else is provided!

Hear It Firsthand: Sister City in the News

Wondering how the Sister City Student Exchange impacts our students' and host families' lives? Check out these news pieces for more information.

Midland Daily News: Sister City Journey Can Be 'Life Changing' (January 2019)

A screenshot of the Sister City Commitee article in the Midland Daily News Opens in new window

Click the image above to read an article on the Sister City Student Exchange published by the Midland Daily News on Monday, January 7, 2019.

Video: Stories from the 2017 Sister City Student Ambassadors 

Midland High School sophomores Justin Witt and John White and H.H. Dow High School junior Sarah Brandstadt were selected from a competitive field of applicants based on a number of factors, including interest in Japanese culture, academic and extracurricular achievements, demonstration of leadership and personal strengths. The students stayed with host families for three weeks from mid-July to August.

Watch the video to hear from John and Justin about their experiences with the Sister City Student Exchange Program.

What Should I Expect?

View the recent slideshows below to see what Midland and Japanese students experience during their trips.

Slideshow: 2018 Handa Students in Midland

Slideshow: 2017 Midland Students in Handa

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Slideshow: 2016 Handa Students in Midland

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Slideshow: 2015 Midland Students in Handa

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