Sister City seeks host families

January 28, 2012

The Hood River-Tsuruta Sister City Committee is assembling host families for a junior high school exchange group that will visit town from March 15-25. A group of 17 will travel from Tsuruta, Japan, staying about a week in Hood River as part of the sister city's annual exchange activities. The group of eight girls, six boys and two adults will spend the week touring the area, taking in local culture, spending time with host families and attending classes at Wy'east and Hood River middle schools.

"We currently need host families for all six boys and two girls," said Scott Murahashi, sister city host family coordinator. "Students are usually grouped in pairs, and ideally host families have children of about the same age so the exchange students can go to school and attend classes with them."

By junior high school, students in Tsuruta have been studying English for several years. Although groups tend to be shy when they arrive in Hood River and first meet their host families, by the time they leave, the students and host families have formed friendships that are remembered for years to come.

For some, hosting exchange students from Tsuruta has inspired a trip to Japan through the sister city program. Some are even reunited with their friends and are hosted by the same students who stayed with them in Hood River.

Students come with their own money for group activities and shopping, so other than a little extra food on the table and the price of an extra ticket or two to something fun, hosting doesn't cost families a lot of money. Murahashi, whose family has hosted several exchange students, said such a unique experience is definitely worth a little extra effort and energy.

This year Hood River and Tsuruta celebrate their 35th year as sister cities. The relationship is one of the longest and most active in the world-wide program. Each year Tsuruta sends two student groups to Hood River - a junior high group in the spring and a high school group in the fall.

As part of the anniversary, a group of adults from Tsuruta will visit Hood River over the July 4 holiday. Hood River also regularly sends student and adult groups to Tsuruta. Two trips to Japan are in the works for 2012: a student trip in late spring or early summer and an adult trip later in the summer or autumn.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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