Student Exchange Program
NEW: Sister City Student Exchange Cancelled for 2020
Amid ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Midland-Handa Sister City Committee and its counterpart in Handa, Japan have decided to cancel the 2020 student exchange. The program will resume in summer 2021 as Midland families welcome Japanese students for a 3-week stay. Click here to learn more.
Applications for host families will be accepted beginning in early spring 2021, so check back to this page for more information.
About the Program
What's It All About?
Every year, the cities of Handa, Japan, and Midland, Michigan take part in an exchange of high school students. During odd-numbered years, Midland sends students to Handa; during even-numbered years, Handa students visit Midland. The purpose of the exchange is to build friendships between sister cities, and to provide an opportunity for youth to experience a different culture.
How Does It Work?
Whether Midland is sending or receiving students, each participant stays with host families during their 3-week stay. These host families help the students immerse themselves into the culture of their host country by coordinating fun activities, cooking meals, and sharing their families' day-to-day lives. In addition, the Sister City program in each country provides a schedule of events and activities for the entire group to participate in together.
Representatives from both Handa City and Midland City government, as well as committees from both countries, serve as liaisons for the students and their host families as they participate in the program. Travel accommodations are provided by the committee and there is no cost to participate - the only out-of-pocket cost to traveling students is the spending money they bring for food, gifts, and entertainment. Everything else is provided!
Hear It Firsthand: Sister City in the News
Wondering how the Sister City Student Exchange impacts our students' and host families' lives? Check out these news pieces for more information.
Midland Daily News: Sister City Journey Can Be 'Life Changing' (January 2019)
Click the image above to read an article on the Sister City Student Exchange published by the Midland Daily News on Monday, January 7, 2019.
Video: Stories from the 2017 Sister City Student Ambassadors
Midland High School sophomores Justin Witt and John White and H.H. Dow High School junior Sarah Brandstadt were selected from a competitive field of applicants based on a number of factors, including interest in Japanese culture, academic and extracurricular achievements, demonstration of leadership and personal strengths. The students stayed with host families for three weeks from mid-July to August.
Watch the video to hear from John and Justin about their experiences with the Sister City Student Exchange Program.
What Should I Expect?
View the recent slideshows below to see what Midland and Japanese students experience during their trips.