From Sunday, March 22 to Friday, March 27, Mr. Yasuki Yoshizawa, Assistant Director of the International Affairs Division, along with Ms. Keiko Sanno and I visited Oregon. We had several objectives while there; among them were to discuss possible exchange projects for the 25th anniversary of the sister state relationship, which is coming up in 2016. In order to discuss this and other ongoing projects, we visited Business Oregon, the Japan-America Society of Oregon, the Oregon Department of Education, Kokusai Semiconductor Equipment Corporation, Travel Portland, and the Japanese Consular Office. We had many constructive meetings, and intend to incorporate the new ideas and perspectives we gained as we continue planning for a way to commemorate the 25th anniversary of our friendship. In our meeting with JASO, we had a chance to discuss the Toyama Cup Speech Contest, which was held on Sunday, April 26th. The contest is held yearly and open to college/university students of all levels, so if you know anyone who might be interested in participating, tell them about it now so they can start preparing early for next year!
Another goal for this trip was to make contacts with schools and educational institutions in order to facilitate further exchange in the field of education. We visited Beaverton High School, Portland Public Schools, Sheridan Japanese School, and Gilkey International Middle School in order to speak about our goals for incorporating student-to-student exchange as part of a lecture series to be held in Toyama schools, focusing on Oregon and the sister state relationship. In addition to middle and high schools, we also visited Oregon State University and heard a report from Portland State University, where a group of 38 college students from Toyama recently participated in a short-term study program. We received warm receptions from all, and valuable advice about how to promote educational exchange. I certainly hope that through our efforts, more Toyama students will have a chance to learn what a wonderful place Oregon is!
Our trip was not without a share of sightseeing! While in Oregon, we had the pleasure of visiting Cannon Beach and the beautiful Haystack Rock, as well as driving through wine country on our way back from Sheridan. We took in the panoramic view of Portland from Pittock Mansion, had beautiful weather on our last day allowing us to get a wonderful view of Mt. Hood while walking along the waterfront. Oregon truly is a beautiful state, and with its friendly people, beautiful landscape, and quality local food and drink, I could not help but think that it is an excellent match as Toyama’s sister state. Above all, I was left with the impression that a sister-state relationship is a relationship between people; I was very happy to meet so many passionate friends of Toyama on our last night in town. After a trip of many inspiring meetings, I am excited to get back to work, promoting the further development of this friendship. I hope to see you again soon!