The visit of a delegation from Sakata, Japan, this past fall to Delaware was deemed a success and a local delegation may go there next year, the Sister City Advisory Board has learned.
“I can say the visit was a real success,” said Delaware City Manager Tom Homan at the board’s meeting last week. “They were so appreciative of the hospitality we showed them.”
“The delegation was so gracious, so welcoming,” said Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle.
Sakata has had a relationship with Delaware City Schools for the last 25 years, Homan said, regularly sending students to Dempsey Middle School. In November, adults from Sakata also visited Delaware, where they were taken to local attractions and events.
“I thought the city did a fantastic job,” board chairman Rand Guebert said to Riggle and Homan. “You really went out of your way to make that a great trip for them.”
“They were very receptive and anxious to build on the visit they had here in the fall,” Homan said. “The question you always have after these visits is, what’s next?”
To reciprocate, some community members from Delaware plan to visit Sakata in 2017, and the talk turned to when would be a good time to visit.
The board suggested making the visit in April, during the cherry blossom season.
Homan said going over anytime from August through December would be bad, because of Delaware hosting the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in August, the Delaware County Fair in September, and the annual budget process.
The trip would cost an estimated $2,000 per person, states the board’s agenda.
“If we sent five people, because they (Sakata) sent five here, we’d have to come up with $10,000,” Guebert said.
Among those attending the meeting was Tim Sword, president of Greater Columbus Sister Cities International Inc. The nonprofit organization provides economic development and exchanges with Columbus’s 10 sister cities.
“It’s about the exchange,” Sword said of the benefits of sister cities. “It’s looking at the opportunity to connect students, arts and culture, businesses and community leaders to that exchange and build that network. The byproduct is storytelling.”
Sword said sister city connections start with a mayor-to-mayor relationship. It was also important to select cities where there would be a mutual benefit, the board was told.
“Some of the exchanges we did, it’s not that we paid for it; it’s just that we created the opportunity with our relationship to sister cities,” Sword said.
Also at the meeting, Guebert was re-elected chairman, and Will Kopp was elected vice chairman.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.