While here, a delegation of Japanese citizens will make a special trip to the University of Evansville to learn about an intensive program for teaching English.It's just one of many stops the 10 residents of Tochigi City, the sister city of Evansville, will take in their three-day tour. They arrived at the Evansville-Vanderburgh Regional Airport early Monday evening.
Mary Powelson, communications director with the Evansville sister city organization, said a large goal behind the visit is to form and strengthen relationships between schools in both countries.
For instance, she hopes the delegation will return to Japan with an appreciation of the University of Evansville's program and encourage students to go there to learn English.
Meanwhile, students at Harrison High School have begun to write e-mail letters to teenagers in Tochigi City, she said.
"Part of this is certainly the fact that we are a global society," she said. "We like to exchange cultures and find commonalities between the cultures."
The Japanese citizens also will tour The Victory, where the Tochigi City Wind Orchestra and Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestras will play music together in September 2009.
The delegation touring Evansville consists of a businessman, a restaurant owner, current and retired teachers, a retired engineer, a transportation worker and two homemakers. It will be greeted in a public reception Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the lobby of Old National Bank.
The ceremony will commence with music by the Rhein Valley Brass Band, followed by remarks by Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel and the Tochigi City delegates. The Harlaxton Quartet, the University of Southern Indiana Chorus, the Evansville Dance Theatre and the Boom Squad also will perform.
The first order of business Monday, though, was food. The delegation proceeded to the Clearcrest Pines Golf and Banquet Center and then to the Le Merigot hotel. During the rest of the visit, the delegation will go to Harrison High School, the Southern Indiana Career and Technical Center, the University of Evansville, the Evansville African American Museum, the Koch Family Children's Museum, the Evansville Museum, the Bower-Suhreinrich Foundation Gallery and the Pagoda.
Dr. Donald Lurye, a member of the welcoming party, said he had visited Tochigi City in 2002 as a chaperone for the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. At the time, he stayed at the home of Yoshio Tsuji, one of the Japanese citizens who arrived Monday.
"I think Japan was an amazing country," Lurye said. "We couldn't have had finer hosts for our home stay."
Tsuji said it was his first visit to the sister city of his hometown.
"We are hoping to find a mutual understanding," he said.
The delegation is the sixth one to visit Evansville since November 1998, when a friendship agreement was signed between the two cities. Representatives of Evansville, including three mayors, have in turn made eight trips to Tochigi City.
Tochigi City was chosen to be Evansville's sister city largely because it lies on the Uzuma River and thus is also a river town. It is north of Tokyo and contains nearly 85,000 people.