This year, the Oak Ridge Sister City Support Organization, or SCSO, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Sister City agreement between Oak Ridge and Naka-shi, Japan.
The significance of this anniversary was acknowledged with special events in Japan and Tennessee. In July, a 21-member delegation from Oak Ridge traveled to Naka, including City Council member Rick Chinn; Myles Hebrard, supervisor of special education for Oak Ridge schools; SCSO Chairwoman Jerralyn Luckmann; Japanese mentor Shigeko Uppuluri; and the 2016 middle school exchange delegation of students and teachers and other SCSO members. A reception and dinner with more than 100 Naka shi dignitaries, officials, and Naka International Exchange Association members attended and honored the Oak Ridge group with recognitions, gifts, songs, and karate demonstrations.
Oak Ridge schools, the City of Oak Ridge, and SCSO united to host a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the sister city agreement. This event featured welcomes to our Naka guests from school superintendent Bruce Borchers and Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch.
The Nashville-based Consul General of Japan, Masami Kinefuchi, attended and offered congratulations to Oak Ridge and Naka on this long-standing relationship. Members of the Naka delegation were introduced and received certificates of citizenship from Gooch. The chaperones, Katsumi Watanabe and Shinchiro Ito, received keys to the City of Oak Ridge.
A video presentation of the highlights for the sister city relationship from the signing of the agreement in 1990, the first Naka student visit to Oak Ridge in 1991, anniversary celebrations, and pictures from the middle exchanges continuing from 1992 to 2016 recalled wonderful memories for many present.
Katsumi Watanabe, Naka Education Board member, said that his family has had three generations, including his son and father, participate in the middle school exchange program over the 25-year history.
In her remarks regarding the middle school exchange, Luckmann noted, “Some of the students we are sending today are children whose parents and, in some cases, grandparents, traveled to Naka years before.”
Of the sister city relationship, she said: “A sister is a family member, and we are all becoming members of a huge family with shared experiences, goals, and dreams. My hope is that this shared relationship will last for 25 more years across future generations.”
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