ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ellie Anderson has only a few days left to learn Japanese.

  • High school students will spend ten days in Japan
  • The trip is part of the Sister Cities Exchange Program
  • Students will present their experiences to the city council 

“I don’t understand….[reads Japanese.] And I’m sure I’m going to be using that quite a bit,” said Anderson, who is a rising senior at St. Petersburg High School.

That’s because she and two other students from St. Petersburg are getting ready for the trip of a lifetime.

“It’s incredible to go to Japan for free and to get to represent my home and where I live is a really big thing that not everyone gets to do,” said Layla Sumilang, a rising senior at St. Petersburg High School.

It’s part of the Sister Cities Exchange Program.

These students will spend ten days in Takamatsu, Japan, living with a host family, learning about their culture, and experiencing what life is like across the world.

“Even with Internet and so on, it’s not the same as meeting with somebody and talking with somebody face-to-face and learning something,” said Lotta Baumann, executive director of St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society.

“I believe that the students will show me everything that I want to do because they know their city best,” said Anderson.

But it’s also up to these students to represent St. Petersburg, which they will have the chance to do when the roles reverse and three Japanese students come spend ten days here.

“I’m nervous about the language barrier but I know the kids that are coming here are just teenagers, just like we are here. So I’m sure we will find a lot of things to relate to,” said Sumilang.

And at the end, they may walk away with more than just a great experience.

“I hope that I can make some friends that last longer than this summer,” said Sumilang.

The students leave for Japan on July 1st and return the 11th.

They will then make a presentation to city council about what they learned during their visit.