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Arts & Culture - Sister Cities Program

Program Overview

City of Clearwater Seeks 2017 High School Cultural Exchange Students

The City of Clearwater is seeking students interested in spending one week in Nagano, Japan during the summer of 2017 as part of the Sister Cities International Exchange Program. Interested students must file a complete application (front and back), including the following:

  • Four letters of recommendation
  • A letter from parents or guardian giving permission and support
  • A 500-word (two-page) essay explaining your interest in the program

Complete applications must be received by 5:00pm on January 6, 2017 to be considered. Please send the entire application, including letters of support and personal essay by mail or in person to:

Christopher Hubbard, Cultural Affairs Specialist
Parks & Recreation Department
100 S. Myrtle Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33756

Students will be selected for an interview based on the strength of their applications and eligibility requirements as listed on page 2 of this document. Interviews are conducted in a group format and will be scheduled during the week of January 16 – 20, 2017. For questions or further information, please contact Christopher Hubbard at (727) 562-4837 or

Nagano sealSister City - Nagano, Japan

"The men and women participating actively in the Sister City Program do more than talk about world understanding, they are contributing their ideas, resources and brotherhood to improve international understanding on a planet that grows smaller with each count-down." - Edward R. Murrow

Visit the Nagano City Web site


Clearwater, Florida has enjoyed Sister City relations with Nagano, Japan since 1959 when Mayor Kurashima of Nagano came to the United States. He was searching for a city with similar economic and community needs and wished to develop new friendships, ideas and business partnerships.

Image of Zenkoji Temple located in Nagano, Japan
Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, Japan

The ancient Zenkoji Temple located in Nagano, Japan and the beaches of Clearwater both attract large numbers of tourists each year. Mayor Kurashima saw the great potential of a shared bond between the two cities.

The exchanges have grown through the years. The current Mayor of Nagano, Mayor Shoichi Washizawa, is extremely committed to continuous interaction, which has resulted in cultural understanding, immeasurable friendships and the enhancement of the Sister City program.

The teacher and student exchanges have been the backbone of the Sister City Program. Every year Nagano sends two teachers for a one month working visitation. The teachers are placed with volunteer homestay families and Pinellas County School System coordinates the school schedule. Nagano also sends a group of middle school students and subsequently another group of high school students for one week of homestay and school visitation in Clearwater.

Image of Clearwater Students in Nagano
Clearwater Students in Nagano, Japan

The Pinellas School Board of Education teacher exchange program began in 1983. Currently, two teachers are sent for one month in the summer to live with a homestay and teach English at several schools. The student exchange program, initiated in 1990, comprises a group of four students and a teacher/chaperone. Their purpose is to attend middle schools, give presentations, interact with students and enjoy life with a homestay family. Students previously stayed in Nagano for one month. Starting in 2005, the length of stay was changed to two weeks.

These mutually beneficial exchanges have had an extremely positive impact in promoting and nurturing cross-cultural relations in educational and community arenas. Long lasting friendships, deeper understanding and appreciation for our respective cultures are the bonds that connect our cities and make us one.

Host Family Help

Our greatest obstacle to making a smooth exchange is finding suitable host families. Sister Cities is compiling a list of families willing to host either students or adults. Depending upon the exchange arrangement, hosting could be as short as a few days or as long as two weeks. Host families are expected to make arrangements for their guest to be dropped off and picked up according to a preplanned schedule. This seems to be the greatest challenge for our families, so if you have contemplated hosting a student or adult, please allow us to see how we may assist you. Many times a student may attend the same school as your child. Don't forget your neighbors. You may be surprised to discover that they are either willing to help with transportation or interested in becoming a host family themselves. Please consider exploring this opportunity and sharing our need with others. For additional information please contact Felicia Donnelly at 562-4852.

Clearwater Sister Cities, Inc. Membership

Annual Membership in the Clearwater Sister City Organization is $15 per individual or $25 per family. The organization promotes global friendship, communication and understanding through exchanges and activities. For more information, contact, or download a membership application here. You may also find additional information by visiting the Clearwater Sister Cities Facebook page and clicking "Like".