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Student Ambassadors to Takamatsu Selected - Host Families Needed

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (June 28, 2016) – Two St. Petersburg high school juniors will represent the city of St. Petersburg as student ambassadors to Takamatsu, Japan, this summer when they depart July 5 for a 10-day cultural exchange visit. Vanessa Nguyen, enrolled in the St. Petersburg High School IB program, and Will Sheddon, who attends Lakewood High School, were selected earlier this spring to participate in the city’s annual cultural goodwill exchange.

During their visit to Takamatsu, Will and Vanessa will learn about Japanese culture while sharing St. Petersburg experiences with Takamatsu host families. Planned activities include visits to city landmarks, attending high school and meeting with city officials, including Takamatsu’s mayor. Upon returning home July 15, Will and Vanessa will present their experiences to City Council during a future meeting.

Each year, two high school juniors from St. Petersburg are selected to visit Japan in order to promote goodwill while learning about the Japanese culture. Applicants to the cultural exchange program must be high school juniors residing in St. Petersburg with an interest in learning about Japan. Former Ambassadors have used the visit to broaden their experience of world cultures or for future studies in international relations, business and Japanese culture.

On July 25, St. Petersburg welcomes three Japanese student ambassadors, Hiromi Kondo, Yui Kawabuchi and Kazuma Furuichi, for ten days. During their stay, the students will share Japanese culture with their host families while visiting St. Petersburg museums and attractions, City Hall, the beach, theme parks, and shopping malls. Following a public farewell reception, the students return to Takamatsu on August 3.

Host Families Needed - St. Petersburg families wishing to serve as host families for visiting Japanese Student Ambassadors during July 25-August 3, 2016, are urged to apply as soon as possible. Families of current and previous Student Ambassadors are also encouraged to apply, as well as those interested in learning about other cultures. Host families are encouraged to include their Japanese guest in daily activities or planned family outings for a full cultural experience. For more information and a Host Family application, visit

St. Petersburg is celebrating the 55th anniversary of its Sister City relationship with Takamatsu, Japan. In 2011, both cities marked the 50th anniversary of the sisterhood with official delegations to both countries; in 2014, the city hosted a delegation of Japanese officials interested in learning about the arts in St. Petersburg, social and broadcast media, and international commerce.

The St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society, Inc., (SPIFFS), an organization with long-standing support from the city’s international community, has been charged with providing support and future expansion of St. Petersburg’s Sister Cities program.  Those with an interest in the Sister Cities program and furthering cultural exchanges within St. Petersburg, including the Student Ambassador program, should contact SPIFFS at 727-552-1896. For more information on St. Petersburg’s Sister Cities program, visit   

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