The South San Francisco Rotary Club sponsored a meet-up between El Camino High School and Japanese high school students from the city of Kishiwada in Osaka Prefecture on August 18.
The visit was part of a one-week, cultural exchange that's been going on since 1990, in which Japanese students visit South San Francisco and the Bay Area one year; then high school students from South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) visit Kishiwada the next year.
According to Rotary Club Board Member Brian Orth, the visit marked the resumption of this cherished tradition since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
In addition to touring El Camino and South San Francisco High Schools, the Japanese students visited the South San Francisco Fire and Police Departments, met current South San Francisco Mayor Buenaflor Nicolas, and embarked on a San Francisco Bay cruise.
They then passed the evening with host families in South San Francisco, before undertaking day tours of the City by the Bay.
The 16 Japanese students were accompanied by the president of the Kishiwada Rotary Club, Mr. Yamamoto, a teacher, and a program director, who also served as a translator.
Orth said the Rotary Club got its start in the United States about 100 years ago by organizing visits or rotations between people’s homes and businesses.
Today, it’s known as a service organization that supports and helps communities.
“The SSF Rotary Club in particular is very education-driven,” said Orth. “We have former superintendents from local school districts who have served as our presidents, so we’ve always been very tied in to the schools.”