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Posted on: July 12, 2019

Students Selected for 2019 Sister City Student Exchange

A red Japanese temple with Mount Fiji in the distance

Three young women smiling at camera, close-up

July 12, 2019 – The Midland-Handa Sister City Committee is pleased to introduce the three Midland students selected to travel to Handa, Japan for three weeks this month for its 2019 student exchange program.

Midland High School senior Luca Jolly, H.H. Dow High School senior Abigail Hnizda, and homeschool senior Deborah Lehman 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 will stay with host families for three weeks from July 19 to August 9, 2019.

“I hope to learn more about intercultural relations and what sets apart and brings together American and Japanese cultures,” said Deborah Lehman. “Being an ambassador of the Midland community in Handa means that my fellow exchange students and I will be the representative sample of Midland, and thus must do our wonderful community justice.” Added Abigail Hnizda: “I hope to learn about the art in the area. It's something I really enjoy and I would love to blend my talents with a different culture. I believe this would be an excellent way to connect with people as well.”

After learning of her selection to the program, Luca Jolly shared: “I’m looking forward to learning more about culture and to experience life in Japan. I’m excited to represent Midland and to talk about how amazing our city is.”

Midland and Handa begin their Sister City relationship in 1981, which has grown to include a student exchange program that sends local students travel to Handa in the odd-numbered years and hosts Japanese students from Handa during even-numbered years. A call for host families for the 2020 student exchange will take place early next year.

The program is administered by the City of Midland and the Midland-Handa Sister City Committee, which includes volunteers Tom Adams, Matthew Bone, Dick Dolinski, Katie Guyer, Randi Kawakita, Camden Princing, Mamiko Reeves, and Chair John Metcalf.

For more information on the Sister City Student Exchange program, visit

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