FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. How does the exchange program work?
A. Each year high school juniors are chosen as Student Ambassadors to represent San Bernardino in the exchange program with Tachikawa, Japan, and Tachikawa selects Japanese high school students to send to San Bernardino. Each student from San Bernardino is paired with a Japanese sibling and lives with their family for a month in Japan, then returns to San Bernardino with their sibling, who will stay with the San Bernardino student's family for a month.
Q. When do the students leave for Japan and return home?
A. The San Bernardino students leave for Japan in June and return home with their Japanese siblings in July. The Japanese students return to Japan in August.
Q. Who operates the program?
A. The program is operated entirely by volunteers, many who were Tachi kids themselves or had children who were Tachi kids.
Q. How is the program funded?
A. The program is paid for through fundraising and citizen donations. Tachi kids and their families participate in fundraising activities for two years.
Q. Who are the Tachi and San kids?
A. Years ago the students decided their groups should be named in honor of their sister city, so the kids chosen from San Bernardino are called the "Tachi kids," and the kids from Japan are called the "San kids."
Q. How are the exchange students selected?
A. High school juniors living in or going to school in San Bernardino are eligible to apply. Students submit a written application (available from website application page). Semi-finalists are chosen and attend a meeting with their families to learn more about the program and give the committee members a chance to meet each applicant and their family. The next steps are a home interview, individual interview with each of the finalists and their parents, and lastly a round table discussion with the students. Committee members are looking for good grades, citizenship, and a family who is willing to take part in the program. Other factors considered are maturity, good judgment, decorum, personality, ability to meet people and adjust to a new environment, and ability to communicate orally. Much is being left to the judgement of the committee which is experienced with the program The student must be willing to share his or her knowledge and experience with others.
Q. How much does it cost to send the students to Japan?
A. Airfare to and from Japan is paid for by the committee through fundraising. The Japanese host family provides housing and meals. The Japanese committee and host family cover expenses of daily trips and activities. Students bring their own spending money for souvenirs and occasional food and drink, approximately $300-$500. Students also bring gifts for the host family and small token gifts for various people they meet during their stay.
Q. What expenses does the San Bernardino family cover while hosting the Japanese sibling?
A. Host families feed and house the Japanese students for the month and pay for family trips they take on their own. They also host all the San and Tachi kids for one activity of their choice, for instance a trip to the beach or mountains with a picnic lunch. This activity need not be expensive. The committee pays for many of the activities such as Knott's Berry Farm and a trip to Los Angeles.
Q. Are there other expenses?
A. Each family pays $200 to go toward the welcome and sayonara parties and a small gift for the Japanese language instructor. Also, there are annual member dues of $50 per family per year, for 2 years.
Q. What activities are planned for the students when they are in San Bernardino?
A. Activities include a welcome reception, meeting the Mayor and City Council, Knott's Berry Farm, beach trip, school visit, Little Tokyo, museums, shopping, a birthday party, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, sayonara party, and other activities planned by the host families. There is also free time for families to relax and take trips on their own, including two free weekends.
Q. What kinds of things will the students do in Japan?
A. The students have a unique experience while living in Japan. They learn about the customs and daily life of the Japanese as well as visit temples, shrines other places of historical significance. Many of the activities are group outings with all of the Tachi kids and Japanese committee members. Living with the Japanese host family offers the opportunity for a unique experience for each student as weekend family time and trips will differ among each student.