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News Release

Applications Accepted for Sister City Student Ambassador Exchange Program

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (January 27, 2016) – High school juniors residing in St. Petersburg are invited to broaden their cultural horizons by applying to serve as one of St. Petersburg’s Student Ambassadors to Takamatsu, Japan, this summer. The deadline to apply is March 11, 2016.

Following interviews by the city’s International Relations Committee, a citizen group charged with cultivating relationships between St. Petersburg and cities around the world, one or two students will be selected to live with host families in Takamatsu and experience Japanese life and culture.

To apply, students must be a resident of St. Petersburg and have completed their junior year by summer 2016. Students may apply by submitting an official application form, accompanied by an original essay; a letter to their host family; a class photo; and a copy of their high school transcript, including verification of honors and/or activity involvement. The application packet must also include a letter from the applicant’s parents addressed to the host family and two reference letters, including one from a school faculty member. All students meeting eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply, regardless of their financial situation.

Applications may be hand-delivered to the Office of Cultural Affairs, City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N., or mailed with a postmark of 5 p.m., Friday, March 11. Applications submitted via e-mail will not be considered.

During their two-week visit, Student Ambassadors will meet local government officials, including Takamatsu’s Mayor; attend high school; and participate in daily activities with their host families. During past visits, Student Ambassadors have tried their hand at making Udon noodles or molded confections made from Wasanbon, a fine-grained Japanese sugar; practicing Kendo; attending sporting events, and visiting some of the area’s historic landmarks, such as the Ritsurin Garden. Upon their return to St. Petersburg, the Student Ambassadors will share information about their overseas visit with City Council and IRC members, as well as with schools, civic groups and others interested in the cultural exchange program.

While all international travel arrangements, costs, including round-trip airfare and insurance and home stays are complimentary, students should be prepared to cover personal living expenses abroad, including local transportation, visits to local attractions, restaurant meals or other incidentals.

Since the program’s inception, 52 students have visited Takamatsu as Student Ambassadors. Past participants have used the experience to pursue studies in International Relations, Japanese studies, and International Business, while others have deepened their understanding of world cultures.

HOST FAMILIES NEEDED: Families are also needed to host visiting Takamatsu Student Ambassadors for two weeks in late July-early August. Families of current and previous applicants are encouraged to apply as a host family and broaden their cultural experience during the students’ two-week annual visit to St. Petersburg.  An application and background check is required. For more information and an application, visit www.stpete.org/irc.

Since becoming a Sister City in 1961, St. Petersburg is believed to have one of the longest continuous relationships in the organization, commemorating its 50th anniversary with Takamatsu in 2011. Following official delegations to both cities, an informal Sister Schools relationship was formed in 2012 for younger students. Since then, students attending St. Petersburg’s Perkins Elementary and Kinashi Elementary schools have participated in a virtual arts and culture exchange to commemorate the opening of Takamatsu’s annual Bonsai Festival each October.

For information the St. Petersburg-Takamatsu Sister City relationship and its Student Ambassador or Host Family exchange programs, visit www.stpete.org/irc.   

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