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Exchange students get taste of Sierra High
Sierra High senior Alex Sakata, right, poses with members of the Stockton Sister City Association Exchange Program that took part in the Sierra High orientation on Friday. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Alex Sakata spent time in Japan over the summer.

The Sierra High senior was part of the Stockton Sister City Association exchange program. He along with Shannen Menor, Nilam Chaudhry, Mareylene De La Cruz and Lauren Delucchi were among an area group of students visiting Shizuoka July 5 through 22.

They stopped by a Shizuoka school, hiked Mount Fiji, learned about some of the tea ceremonies, and visited several temples and shrines.

Sakata, who got to share time with a host family he met a year ago, enjoyed his stay in Tokyo.

“It was different out there,” he said at Friday’s freshmen orientation at SHS gymnasium.

Sakata and others linked up with Japanese students towards the end of their visit. That group visited SHS for the Link Crew event – this was the second straight year that Japanese from the exchange program took part in the ice-breaking exercises – learning some of the American culture including the language as part of their itinerary.

Also included were visits to San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Yosemite National Park, and the University of the Pacific.

Both groups are part of Sister Cities International. This non-profit program was developed municipal partnerships between the two nations. The mission here is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time.

Sakata and others from the local group were unable to visit Japan last year due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeast part of the country.