The Pendleton Cultural Foundation is the non-profit organization that was developed to carry out the Sister City cultural exchange between the City of Pendleton and the City of Minamisoma, Japan. Originally the contract was between the Cities of Haramachi and Pendleton, however in 2006 a new contract was signed when towns and villages were merged to create Minamisoma. Since 1999 we have been sending a delegation of students from Pendleton to spend two weeks in Japan and they have sent students to Pendleton for the same amount of time. There was a break in the exchange temporarily after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that left more than 18,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. In 2015, we sent our first group of students back to Japan for the first time since the devastation.
Through the Sister City program many dozens of Pendleton students have had an opportunity to expand their horizons and learn about Japanese culture first-hand. This year’s trip will provide not just a great cultural experience for our students, but also send a powerful message to the people of Minamisoma that we value and honor our connection with them.
Each year in the fall, interviews are conducted and a new group of six students and a chaperone are selected for the trip the next summer. Throughout the year, there are various fundraising opportunities to help raise money for the trip to Japan and hosting a group of exchange students in Pendleton. The Pendleton students visit Minamisoma for 2-3 weeks in July and the Japanese students come to Pendleton for 2-3 weeks in August. Students live with host families for the duration of their trip and join up with the rest of the group each day for the scheduled activities.
Our goals consist of increasing awareness of the sister city exchange program through combined fundraising and cultural events. The program’s ultimate objective is to provide for an annual exchange of culture between Minamisoma and Pendleton area students on an indefinite basis which may lead to other positive outcomes such as full year exchange students at the high school and college level and international tourism.
Board of Directors
The Pendleton Cultural Foundation consists of a board of directors with a passion for keeping this exchange alive and they are all working together to make sure that this opportunity is available and will continue to be available to the youth of Pendleton.