The Rikubetsu Friendship Society welcomes a student delegation to Lacombe from Rikubetsu, Japan. (Todd Colin Vaughan/LACOMBE EXPRESS)

The Rikubetsu Friendship Society welcomes a student delegation to Lacombe from Rikubetsu, Japan. (Todd Colin Vaughan/LACOMBE EXPRESS)

Rikubetsu students welcomed by Lacombe families

Four-day visit a cultural exchange between central Alberta, Japan

Lacombe continues to foster their relationship with Rikubetsu, the city’s Japanese sister-city.

Established in 1986, the relationship is over 30 years old and is maintained through ongoing contact and cultural exchanges. Part of that is an annual visit by students, who are hosted by Lacombe families and tour the city and the region, learning about central Alberta.

“We have have been, of course very busy. We try to pack in as much Canadian experiences as we can in the four short days they are here,” Marlene McQuesten, Rikubetsu Friendship Society committee member said.

Throughout the course of the students’ four-day visit, they immersed their selves in many aspects of Alberta life including a visit to Kraay Family Farms and the Telus World of Science centre in Edmonton.

READ ALSO: Rikubetsu students immerse in culture of Lacombe

On Tuesday, the delegation had the opportunity to learn about Lacombe.

“They went to all the stations — the police station, the fire station and the radio station,” McQuesten said. “We also went to the junior high school, where they did a tour and took part in classes.

“That part is crucial because it enriches their experience because they get to see how a Canadian junior high school works, both from the teacher chaperone perspective and the students.”

McQuesten said they will continue to foster Lacombe’s relationship with Rikubetsu, including the student delegation and also sending Lacombe residents to Japan.

McQuesten had to the opportunity to travel in July of this year.

They treated us royally and we got to see how Rikubetsu is — it reminds me of around Chilliwack,” she said.

McQuesten said this relationship is a great way for Lacombe to see the diversity of the world and also find commonalities between communities.

“That understanding of culture stops people from labelling. It enriches everyone and I don’t think you can put a price tag on that,” she said.

The society is always looking for host families for next year’s delegation and they are also looking for committee members to help with the work.

“Our committee is always looking for volunteers because many hands make light work,” she said.

She added, “ It fills your heart with such a warm feeling to see the interaction between Lacombe and Rikubetsu. I am proud of my city and proud of the people who act as ambassadors when we have visitors.”

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