Shiwa students welcomed
TEN students from Southern Downs Regional Council sister city Shiwa (Japan) have spent time at Stanthorpe High School, touring the Granite Belt and attending a civic welcome this week.
Mayor Peter Blundell welcomed the 10 Shiwa Junior High School students and three teachers at a special civic reception on Monday at the Stanthorpe council chambers.
Stanthorpe established a formal sister city agreement with Shiwa in 2005 and then re-signed with the Southern Downs Regional Council in 2009.
Cr Blundell said the Southern Downs region had formed a strong bond with the people of Shiwa and he hoped to build on that into the future.
"Sister-city programs are renowned for increasing understanding and friendship, as well as developing exchanges and co-operation in the fields of economics, science and technology, culture and education," Cr Blundell said.
"We have regular visits from Shiwa including 12 visitors last year who were thoroughly impressed with the local wines, the Apple and Grape Festival and enjoying time spent talking to locals through their interpreter.
"There is also a student exchange program between Warwick State High School and Kumiyama, a Japanese province near Shiwa.
"I have spent time at Shiwa and had a very successful visit in October last year taking the opportunity to learn about their schools, businesses, local government projects and community initiatives such as farmer-owned co-operative markets.
"I will be returning this year to help strengthen ties between Japan and the Southern Downs due to the mutual benefits through exchange and trade," he said.
Cr Blundell said the Shiwa Junior High School students will stay with local host families, attend Stanthorpe High School and participate in several excursions including Sutton's Juice Factory, Granite Belt Dairy and the Qld College of Wine Tourism.