Know a high school junior living in St. Petersburg who has a penchant for travel? St. Pete is opening its annual application process to send up to two 11th-grade students to its sister city, Takamatsu, Japan.
Students interested in applying must complete the city’s official application form, an original essay, a letter to the program’s host family in Japan, class photos, and a copy of their high school transcripts including proof of participation in honors programs and/or their activities. They also must submit a class photo.
Parents of applicants also have to do a little legwork. Parents must include their own letter to the host family as well as two reference letters, including one from a school faculty member.
Applications are due to the city by March 11. Applications may be hand-delivered to the Office of Cultural Affairs in City Hall or mailed with a postmark no later than 5 p.m. on the day of the deadline. Applications cannot be submitted digitally.
The student or students selected will spend two weeks with a host family in Takamatsu, located on the southern Japanese island of Shikoku.
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet local government officials as well as Takamatsu’s mayor. They will attend a local high school and participate in daily activities with their host family. That includes visiting local cultural hot spots, historical sites, and even learning to cook local fare.
The students are expected to share their experience with the St. Pete City Council when they return as well as schools or other groups interested in the program.
The program includes round-trip airfare, insurance and home stays. Students traveling there should expect to have enough money to cover personal living expenses while in Japan including transportation, visits to attractions and meals.
Since the program began, 52 St. Pete students have visited Takamatsu.
The program also accepts students from Takamatsu into St. Pete. The city is looking for host families to participate in that program.
Trips to Takamatsu and for those traveling to St. Pete are scheduled in late July or early August. Families interested in becoming a host family can find more information on the city’s website. An application and background check is required.
St. Pete and Takamatsu have been sister cities since 1961.