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Twenty-five years ago the first students from Toyota Technical College arrived at Okanagan College to embark on a summer program of collision repair training and learning English. It planted the seed for a relationship that would blossom to span oceans, cultures, and decades.
This year a record 110 students from the Japanese institution are completing the program, bringing the total to more than 1,000 participants since the program began in 1992. On Friday, Toyota Technical College President Kazunori Ikeyama joined Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton in congratulating students and the passionate instructors and sanseis who have helped to grow the program.
“Today we celebrate and reflect on this great friendship and the many students it has benefited over the years,” explained Ikeyama. “It is a program and a partnership that means a great deal to both institutions.”
“What started out as an educational partnership has become, in many ways, so much more,” noted Hamilton. “The cross-cultural exchange that takes place has enriched our campus community tremendously over the years. The more than 1,000 students and the many teachers who have come here to learn about Canadian culture have been, and will continue to be, our honoured guests, friends, learners, and teachers.”
Five years ago the two presidents celebrated the program’s 20th anniversary (and 700 students through the program) by planting a Japanese Cherry tree – or Sakura – at the Kelowna campus. The tree serves as a year-round reminder of the friendship between the two institutions.
Video from the event can be found here: https://youtu.be/l5uS0Ly1XRA.