NORFOLK, VA – On Tuesday, Oct. 29, 39 students from the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) will depart and travel to the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, Osaka, Miyazaki, Kitakyushu, and Tokyo. The students will spend two weeks in Japan. The trip is sponsored and coordinated by The Governor’s School for the Arts and the Japanese Education Culture Center, Inc. along with the Norfolk Sister Cities Association, the Sister Cities of Virginia Beach, the City of Miyazaki, the City of Kitakyushu, Nippon Sport Science University and volunteer organizations in both the United States and Japan.
Eight of the 39 students attend Norfolk Public Schools. Eli Gorman attends both Norview High School and the Governor’s School for the Arts. This trip is his first outside of the country. He shares, “I’m a little nervous and excited for the students’ reactions to our performance. I met some of the students over the summer, and that was amazing. We are all so passionate about the performance. I can’t wait to see them again.”
The trip coincides with a visit by Norfolk Councilwoman Mamie B. Johnson as part of the Norfolk Sister City 60th anniversary of Norfolk’s partnership with Kitakyushu. In July, the City of Norfolk hosted a delegation of seven city officials from Kitakyushu – Councilwoman Johnson will represent the City of Norfolk and attend a 60th anniversary event as part of her visit. She shares, “I am proud to represent the City of Norfolk as part of this delegation. This trip provides the scholars participating with an opportunity to enhance not only their own success, but the region’s success in the global economy, and in the workplace upon graduation.”
Councilwoman Johnson will be accompanied by Dr. Hiroyuki Hamada, Professor Emeritus of Old Dominion University and Miyazaki City, Japan, and his wife Mizuki Hamada. For 45 years Dr. Hamada has volunteered for Norfolk Sister Cities and promoted international exchanges between Japan and Hampton Roads. This includes, serving as the chair of the Kitakyushu committee and as past president of the Norfolk Sister Cities Association. Mrs. Hamada currently serves as the co-chair of the Kitakyushu Committee. She is the principal coordinator of the Kitakyushu program.
As part of the cultural exchange, students will promote the long-lasting mutual friendship and goodwill between Hampton Roads and its Japanese sister cities of Kitakyushu (60-year Sister City of Norfolk) and Miyazaki (27-year Sister City of Virginia Beach). GSA students will have the unique opportunity to perform in a premier event in Tokyo, with the cooperative support from Nittaidai, the Nippon Sport Science University, which visited Hampton Roads in 2010. Participating students will be afforded the opportunity of experiencing a home stay, arranged through the sister cities’ organizations, and learn the Japanese way of life through the people-to-people exchange program.