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Global Schools Plan Proposed

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Mariko Fukuda enthused about sister city school
Global schools plan proposed
By Roger Lelievre
STAFF REPORTER Ann Arbor students may be taking one step step closer to their counterparts worldwide.
That journey could be hastened by a new program which will work hand in hand with the “sister city” program already linking Ann Arbor with Hikone, Japan. Now “sister city schools" may carry further the message of a "global education."
Meetings are taking place this week in Ann Arbor between local school and city officials and Mariko Fukuda, a coordinator with Sister Cities International. If discussions go well, schools in Ann Arbor's Japanese sister city of Hikone could be "paired” for educational and cultural exchanges with their local contemporaries.
MS.FUKUDA SAYS she has received nothing but enthusiastic responses to the sister city school affiliation program during a 10-city swing through Michigan.
Ann Arbor already has some educational ties with Hikone. Two local teachers, Shirley (Rusty) Schumacher and Jo Pattinson, visited Hikone for six weeks last fall. Ms. Fukuda is working closely with them in developing the program, which is already operating in 143 schools nationwide.
She said the aim of sister city schools is to "bring the cultures of other countries into the classroom, so things like Iran will be better understood or avoided in the future."
That culture could take the form of photographs, pen-pal type letters, tape recordings and curriculum exchanges, the Los Angeles based Ms. Fukuda said.
The program works best in elementary schools, where "at that age kids are more willing to get involved in something new," she added.
Studies show that when programs, like sister schools, are introduced into a system, kids are more eager to learn, and express greater interest in news programs, the languages of other countries and the world around them, she says.
Harry Howard, superintendent of the Ann Arbor school system, agrees.
Howard said he would like to promote any relations with Ann Arbor's sister city, including the sister schools program.
"It's part of the whole movement to recognize one world. We have to understand one another and promulgate that feeling among students,” said Howard.
“THIS IS A PRIMARY step in that direction,” he added.
Sister Cities International has been in operation for about 25 years. Besides cultural transfers, Sister Cities also facilitates student exchanges. In 1979, there were 683 U.S. cities affiliated with 917 sister cities in 77 other countries.