For more than 50 years, the City of Detroit and Toyota City, Japan have enjoyed a vibrant relationship as sister cities. The main component of this relationship is an annual cultural exchange program for high school students, which began in 1965. Detroit high school students visit Toyota one year, while Toyota students visit Detroit the following year.
The City of Detroit seeks high school students who reside in Detroit to visit Toyota City, Japan for two weeks during the summer. Preference is given to Detroit residents, however the City will consider individuals who live outside Detroit. The families of the selected exchange students must agree to serve as hosts for the Detroit Sister Cities Program.
Meals, accommodations and activities will be taken care of by the Toyota government or the host families. Each participant including the chaperones will stay with a host family.
While in Japan, the delegation will get a first-hand look at life in Japan. During the group’s stay, the Toyota City government provides activities mostly during the weekdays, reserving the weekends and evenings for host family activities. Activities normally include:
• Tours of an auto plant and several museums
• A trip to a Japanese city (like Kyoto or Nara) to visit historic shrines and temples
• A visit to a Japanese high school
• Traditional Japanese activities (tea ceremony, flower arranging and Japanese calligraphy) and martial arts demonstrations (judo and kendo)
• Hands-on workshops – flower arranging, Japanese calligraphy and ceramics
The selection process includes completion of an application (including a school transcript and essay) and an interview by a selection committee. As a part of the selection process, the City will conduct background checks.
Preference is given to students who are in their last two years of high school or whose families have hosted a student from Japan in the past. However, past participation in the Detroit-Toyota Sister Cities Program does not guarantee selection as an exchange student or chaperone.
Participants are responsible for their airfare and spending money. Once in Japan, the Toyota City government and host families will take care of each member’s accommodations and meals.