Japanese students visiting from Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, met with Norman Mayor Lynne Miller at an annual reception hosted by PASSPORTS, Norman’s Sister Cities International organization. The event kicked off the month-long visit for the 12 Ritsumeikan University students who are studying English and American culture at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for English as a Second Language (CESL).
The event continued the tradition of the City of Norman working closely with OU and Norman’s Sister Cities and Oklahoma’s Sister States. Ritsumeikan University is located in Oklahoma’s sister state, Kyoto Prefecture, and it is located very close to Norman’s Sister City, Seika.
“We have a mayor who is very supportive of international relationships and global contacts,” said Marles Bradley, organizer of the reception and past president of PASSPORTS. “This event expands Norman’s international and global connections and the students are part of that.”
Several of the visiting students are studying government and law and were excited to meet the mayor.
“She was so kind,” said Sakura Kizawa of Mayor Miller. “My major is international politics and law, so it was so interesting to meet her.”
The reception officially welcomed the Japanese students to the City of Norman, and also served as a celebration of the host families who provide a home for the students during their time in Oklahoma.
“From day one, the students have a family,” said Haley Vickers, organizer of the current Ritsumeikan group attending CESL. “The host families provide a cultural experience as the students see what it’s like to be a part of an American family.”
Kizawa spent extensive time traveling with her host mother and father across Oklahoma, sightseeing, shopping and trying new foods.
“I like American foods, but my most favorite is my host mother’s food,” said Kizawa.
The students from Ritsumeikan University returned home to Japan on March 3.