Dear Editor:Six teenagers from Aspen High School and myself, as chaperone, have just returned from an amazing exchange with our official Friendship City of Katsuyama in Japan. The amount of time, effort, care and generosity that this lovely city, located on the main island of Japan and close to Kyoto, offered us was overwhelming and it reminded us that this truly is “one world” and that America still has friends in it.The Katsuyama exchange is offered to any and all interested high school students in the valley and is organized at a grassroots level here in Aspen, namely the tireless efforts of Deborah Madsen and the parents of students who would like to go. This program is longer than the sister city exchanges, nearly three weeks and during the summer, giving all an opportunity to really live in the community and receive a taste of Japan that is unforgettable.We had a very official and delightful meeting with the Mayor of Katsuyama, where we exchanged information and news, gifts and reminiscences of this mayor’s trips to Aspen. We also got Japanese calligraphy lessons, ikebana lessons, soba noodle-making lessons, taiko drum and shamisen lessons, tours of castles, Buddhist temples, historical houses of samurai, a silk fabric factory, a trip to Sunset Beach on the Sea of Japan, a trip to SkiJam, Katsuyama’s ski resort and lots more.I would personally like to thank Katsuyama City for inviting us, nurturing us and reminding us about the true meaning of friendship. Domo arigato gozaimashta.Martha FergusonOld Snowmass
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