Sand Lake Elementary and Chitose Elementary in our Sister City Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan have a 20 year history of student exchanges. Our students travel to Japan every other year in 5th or 6th grade to take part in a home stay and school visit. Likewise students from Chitose come to Anchorage in January. Chitose comes in early January so they can experience our school in session, and not miss their school, just as we do in June. Usually 10 students and 5 adults visit Anchorage for 4-5 days. During this quick trip we try to pack in as many Alaskan experiences as possible. The whole group attends a matching ceremony where Chitose students meet their host families and a farewell potluck. All Japanese Immersion families are invited to these events.
Host families are responsible for entertaining their visiting students and Tomonokai provides entertainment and meals for the adults. It is wonderful when host families include more students in their activities so more students have that connection with their Chitose counter parts. Families that are not hosting are encourage to be part of the festivities with hosting a hospitality room at Sand Lake, providing meals, escorting adults on tours, planning excursions, transportation.