The Visit from Bandai was a huge success

The Visit from Bandai was a huge success

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It is amazing how seriously they take our exchange program. They put their emphasis on having our children go back and forth but I am amazed at the energy they put into their adult program. Bandai’s International Sister City decided that this year they wanted a larger opportunity for their citizens and they sent fourteen people plus two interpreters. They had representation from their school system, farmers, municipal staff, members of their community and one very interesting story. A young lady who is an engineer for Toyota was a resident of the Fukishima area that was destroyed by the tsunami and the reactor meltdown in 2011. Today she and her husband have built a new home in Bandai. She was overwhelmed with our hospitality and the fact that Oliver sent care packages to youth who were billeted by Bandai.
Oliver’s exchange with Bandai was put together by the province in the late 1980’s. There have been years with more or less activity but we have always maintained the relationship. Bandai is a rural farming community about six hours north of Tokyo. It is a hard working farming community and it is easy to feel the rural connections we all share. The testimonials given by youth and adults from both countries easily explain how rewarding this long standing relationship has been. Our Bandai guests were hosted to the following.
The two day visit was packed with activities including a tour of the Machail packing house, Transwest Helicopters and a number of Wineries. They were met with a western hold up at Rustico winery and taught all adult the successful Okanagan Ice Wine Industry from Iniskillen.
Our guests also said thank-you to the Link crew at SOSS for their participation in the “shoe box” gift project for the youth that Bandai billeted. Principal Kate Turner explained the recent history of the school and where it will be in a year’s time when the new school will be complete. At Oliver Elementary School the Bandai guests were greeted in Japanese by a class and the class was given gifts to be distributed to the whole school. Two students also shared their year long social programs that all students participate in.They were also given a talk by Principal on the Community Hub program as Bandai was interested in some of our social services.
It is important to note that our guests spent some serious dollars in our town. They had nine rooms over two days in our shoulder season, they shopped at many local merchants including, Beyond Bliss, Dollar Rama, Shoppers, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and they shopped at Seven Eleven after they were dropped off for the day. They also purchased thousands of dollars of Ice wine that will tell Oliver’s story for years to come.
Our local sister city committee donated their homes, transportation and offered meals to keep our local expenses down. A huge thank-you to all of you who took the time and effort to make this visit a success.
As a final point, I want to share how truly important our relationship is to the Town of Bandai. When our guests were dropped off at the Kelowna airport they gave us an envelop in support of our program and for our generous hospitality in hosting their delegation. In the envelope were twenty one hundred dollar bills. The Town of Oliver will ensure that these funds will be used to foster our youth exchange in future years.

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