Exchange and Citizen Exchange have uncountable benefits to world peace by improving the understanding between our two people. The people of Miharu see and have the opportunity to talk with friendly foreign teachers
and visitors almost every day. Foreign exchange participants from Miharu
going to America learn about American values, customs, and ways of doing business from teachers,
fellow students, families, and volunteers, thru direct experience. They
learn to appreciate aspects of American culture, but also develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for Japan and Japanese culture.
In turn, American host families
or American visitors to Miharu gain an appreciation for Japanese culture and take back Japanese culture to America. Citizen
participants in international exchange between Miharu and Rice Lake have gone on to work for the US State Department (S. Finnigan,
Jr), Sony Records (Chris Bathke), a major world engineering company (J. Lilliblad), a major international university (Y. Ouchi),
and a major IT company (J. Hashimoto).
International exchange programs
-- moving people across borders for educational, professional, or cultural purposes -- connect an ever-widening circle of
Miharu citizens with the world. Visitors to Miharu have led Miharu people
to India, Czech Republic, Canada, and other parts of the US than just Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Citizen and high school exchanges allow Miharu people to enrich their own lives,
share their country’s rich culture, and develop new skills and knowledge as they promote global understanding and world
peace – one person at a time.
To continue to grow and prosper
in an increasingly interdependent global economy, Japan
will need growing numbers of citizens equipped to succeed in international trade: citizens knowledgeable about markets, languages,
cultures, and business practices around the world. Why should those future
global business and government leaders only come from Tokyo or Osaka? MIFA and the RLH hep Miharu children
acquire the tools and skills necessary for their future role in a global economy.
Miharu WAS the home of the
ONLY American Bed and Breakfast in Japan. The Rice Lake House allows Miharu people (and other Japanese) to experience American
home stay without ever leaving Japan. The Rice Lake House attract tourists and visitors to Miharu, who then spend
money in Miharu’s stores and restaurants. (unfortunately the RLH is just
an empty house now since most of the classes and events are no longer offered.)
MIFA and the Sister City
Relationship allow Miharu people to participate in home stays and English language study programs for LESS than the cost of
other such programs in Japan.
Typical Summer English Homestay Programs cost between
$4000 to $5000.
Miharu’s summer program costs $2000 to $3000 per person.
Miharu students received
help with application to American universities at NO charge. Other companies
charge $1000 to $3000 per year for such a service. (Note: Six Miharu students
have graduated from American universities. Two are currently enrolled (as of 2009).
Due to the efforts of Miharu’s
CIR, Miharu was home to the first English Immersion
Pre-school in Fukushima
Prefecture. Miharu ABC Kids
pays rent to Miharu, and purchases goods and services from Miharu businesses. Miharu
ABC Kids employs a teacher who uses the salary to pay taxes back to Miharu, as well as to purchase other goods and services
from Miharu businesses.
Before July of 2006, Miharu
was one of only TWO cities in Fukushima Prefecture
where people can have weekly contact with native speakers of English. Miharu
WAS the ONLY town in Fukushima Prefecture
that offered 16 hours of English conversation a week (7 adult classes, 4 elementary classes, 4 preschool classes, and 1 jr.
high class) to its citizens. Miharu was the only town in Fukushima
that offers Spanish, French and Korean classes taught by native speakers at the community level. (Unfortunately most programs were cancelled from 2008.)
10. The money that MIFA receives is spent BACK in Miharu.
(ア) Salary to three or four Miharu citizens (who then pay taxes to Miharu and spend that
money in Miharu).
(イ) Purchasing goods and services from Miharu local businesses. (Toribun, Ozawa Liquor Store, Mikiya, Kuroba, Hachimonjiya, etc, etc.)
(ウ) Taxes and utilities are fully paid by the RLH and MIFA.
The CIR (Jeana) PAID full taxes on her income, and regularly worked more than the required hours WITHOUT
overtime pay. She also regularly used her “annual leave” to travel
with groups of people from Miharu to America,
arranged her own vacation and used her personal travel allowance for the people of Miharu.
She participated in many community activities and promoted Miharu inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture.
Other community groups that
Jeana started in Miharu pay for use of public facilities (Miharu Ensemble and Play+ing paid more than 3,000,000 yen combined
in Heisei 17 for use of Mahora) as well as buy goods and services from other Miharu businesses. ABC Kids Preschool pays Miharu in excess of 800,000 yen a year (2005 and 2006)in rent for Ogisawa Preschool. In 2004, they paid about 200,000 yen rent for the Dam Jimushitu. In addition, none of these three groups have accepted direct financial support from the Miharu general
budget! All three of these organizations are self-supporting!
Jeana and her work with in
English education in the community directly brought tax payers (Alaine, Keri, Kristelle and Yohei, Debbie, Haruko, Jacky,
etc. ) to Miharu over the last 10 years. These are non-public employees, who also pay rent and spend their salary
in Miharu on other services.
The CIR (Jeana) at RLH provided
the following services FREE OF CHARGE to Miharu citizens: a) travel advice/assistance
to Miharu people wanting to travel abroad. b) assistance in making reservations
and making payments abroad c) translation of business cards and documents
for Miharu businesses doing business abroad d) research and referrals to
other resources in consultation with the customer.
Jeana provided invaluable
support and advice to the other foreign teachers and residents of Miharu. She
assisted them with medical emergencies, driver’s license and taxes, visas and other daily problems. She advised and assisted them in their lesson planning and curriculum and ensured a higher quality of English
education was available to Miharu citizens. With Jeana’s support,
Miharu was able to retain good teachers LONGER, therefore maximizing the return on investment of the town.
The RLH served as a center for community exchange for the whole community of Miharu, not just to meet
foreigners, but also meet other Miharu people and make new friends.
“If it weren’t for RLH, I wouldn’t
know anyone in Miharu,” M. Murakami
(new yomei-san in Miharu).
18． Miharu school
children experienced American life without leaving Miharu. Tours of the
RLH for Miharu children are FREE. Craft and cooking classes are offered for cost
of materials only.
19． The RLH Managers happily arrange their days off around the schedule of Miharu schools
and town events. Jeana happily received visitors, even on her scheduled days off, and took overnight guests on any day of
the week, regardless of scheduled days off.
20． The Sister City program allowed two students from Miharu to attend American high school each year. This program costed approx. 500,000 yen per student, but similar programs offered
throughout Japan cost between 800,000
and 1,000,000 per student. (Note: For
the first 15 years of the program, the cost per student was less than 200,000 yen – the cost has increased due to changes
in US law).