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Embetsu or Bust!
Castlegar's venerable exchange arrangement with Embetsu, Japan may be tried and true, but the thrill of heading across the Pacific to represent their city is as intense as ever for a group of fresh ambassadors.
Representatives of the City of Castlegar and Selkirk College visited Embetsu in 1989 to sign a sister city agreement. Since then there have been continuing exchanges between the two cities. The Student Exchange Program has been a great success since 1998.
The eight youngsters who will make the trek next month took turns addressing city council on Monday night. Their comments were greatly enjoyed by council, staff and onlookers.
Andrew Voykin was the first of the group to speak, and after a Japanese language introduction he thanked council for the opportunity to appear before it.
"I'm really excited to learn about the Japanese people, their culture, their technology and their food," he stated. "My goal as an ambassador is to represent Castlegar and Canada the best I can, by being respectful and kind to everyone I meet."
Gemma Van Doesburg told the assembly it's an honour to be among the ambassadors for the upcoming excursion.
"As the days go by I actually realize that this is happening.
Every day I become more excited and just a little bit more nervous. I'm just overjoyed to be able to tour Japan, learn about their culture, develop many new friendships… and then being able to share my feelings with others.
As an ambassador of Castlegar, I can show what Castlegar has to offer our friends overseas. Most of all I want to represent the kind, friendly people of Castlegar, by being my best-behaved self."
The other travellers to speak were: A.J. Roberts, Chloe Ahlefeld, Christina Maida-Cook, April Gariepy, Alexia Kardash, and Andrea Smithies.
Mayor Chernoff, himself a veteran of more than one Japanese visit, vouched for the value of the experience, and assured the youngsters they would not forget the journey. He thanked them on behalf of the city, and wished the best on their upcoming adventure.