Note: The text, photos, and captions in this article are from a post by Lopaka Baptiste in 21maile on 13 March 2015. Baptiste is on Senator Maile Shimabukuro’s staff.
In June of 1985, the State of Hawaii and the Prefecture of Okinawa became sister-states. During the 1990 Legislative Session, the Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 154 requesting the Department of Education to Establish an Exchange Program with Okinawa.
Over the years, over 700 students from Okinawa and over 500 students from Hawaii have benefited from the exchange. When you include those who have hosted but not travelled, the numbers rise to over a thousand on each side.
The Hawaii United Okinawa Association and the forty-nine member organizations have maintained the commitment to continue this long standing program, starting in 2011 to the present. It is a student exchange program that both the Hawaii and Okinawa education departments have recognized as the longest running program of its kind.
This exchange program celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary with acknowledgements from the Hawaii State Legislature and the first governor of Okinawan ancestry, the honorable David Y. Ige, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council during their visit to the State Capitol and also at the Aloha Party at the Hawaii Okinawa Center on March 13. The twenty five Okinawa students for 2015 arrived on February 28 and will leave Hawaii on March 14, accompanied by Okinawan Prefectural Board of Education officials.
Councilor, Mr. Masahiro Unten
Student exchange coordinator, Mr. Tamotsu Miyagi
Teachers – Mr. Tadato Miyagawa, Ms. Chiaki Inamine, and Ms. Nina Shao
High School Students from Okinawa:
Nanako Miyagi, Hibiki Shibata, Asuka Higa, Raita Seki, Momoe Oshiro, Momoko Miyamoto, Hiroka Itokazu, Shima Nakasone, Kotone Kamiya, Akari Arakaki, Sato Maehara, Shiho Hateruma, Erina Shimabukuro, Nao Tanahara, Seiya Ikehara, Koya Kakazu, Wakana Tokuyama, Sana Hamakawa, Iroha Mochida, Rihei Gushiken, Daisuke Kinjo, Hirono Tamashiro, Vanessa Anne Azurin, Suzu Nikawadori, and Anri Sekiya
The delegation was also accompanied by Jane Serikaku, Executive Director and Student Exchange Coordinator of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association of Hawaii; Ron Miyashiro, Hawaii Okinawa Today; and Dennis Arakaki, Former State Representative.
Part II of the exchange is when Hawaii students visit Okinawa, from June 5 – 19, 2015 to be hosted by these students from Okinawa who visited Hawaii.