Students from Columbus’ sister city Miyoshi, Japan visit local schools

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Japanese student Hisahito Kanzaka, left, of Miyoshi, Japan, looks at translation device held by Kai Calas as he participates in a life sciences class during a visit by students and teachers from Columbus’ sister city Miyoshi, Japan at Northside Middle School in Columbus, Ind., Friday, Dec. 1, 2023.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — For the first time since the pandemic, students from Columbus’ Japanese sister city have come to visit.

Eight middle school students from schools in the Miyoshi area, along with five adults, arrived in Columbus on Thursday and are in town through Sunday, organizers said.

“To the students, of course it always broadens your horizon when you meet people from other countries,” said Janice Montgomery with the local Friends of Miyoshi committee. “You really get to understand the culture. We want it to be a friendly relationship between Miyoshi and Columbus, which we have had now for many, many years.”

On Friday morning, the young visitors attended classes with their host students at Central and Northside middle schools, she said. During that same time, educational leaders from the delegation toured a couple of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. buildings.

Students then met with Mayor Jim Lienhoop. They will spend today with their host families and host an “Arigato” party at Central on Sunday to thank host students, schools and organizers.

Columbus and Miyoshi have been sister cities for almost 30 years. Montgomery, who is now a semi-retired educator, became the first ambassador for the cities’ educational exchange program in 1996.

“I just think it’s great that this partnership has stood the test of time,” she said.

Blake Manuel, assistant principal for the 2025 cohort at Columbus East High School, has been selected as the latest educational goodwill ambassador for the exchange program. In addition to helping facilitate the delegation from Miyoshi, he will leave Dec. 9 to visit the sister city and return on Dec. 18.

“I’m really excited for it,” he said. “It’s a big honor. This has been a longstanding partnership between Columbus and Miyoshi. So to be a part of it and to help ensure that they have a good visit here has been an exciting opportunity.”

Manuel, who has been part of the Friends of Myoshi committee for about 10 years, said that the last time students from Miyoshi visited Columbus was in 2019. There was also a virtual exchange that took place between students in the two cities last winter.

For the complete story and more photos, see Saturday’s Republic.