Sister Cities Program

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Program Overview

Sister City - Nagano, Japan

"The men and women participating actively in the Sister City Program do more than talk about world understanding, they are contributing their ideas, resources and brotherhood to improve international understanding on a planet that grows smaller with each count-down." - Edward R. Murrow

Visit the Nagano City Web site


Zenkoji Temple in Nagano JapanClearwater, Florida has enjoyed Sister City relations with Nagano, Japan since 1959 when Mayor Kurashima of Nagano came to the United States. He was searching for a city with similar economic and community needs and wished to develop new friendships, ideas and business partnerships.

The ancient Zenkoji Temple located in Nagano, Japan and the beaches of Clearwater both attract large numbers of tourists each year. Mayor Kurashima saw the great potential of a shared bond between the two cities.

The exchanges have grown through the years. The current Mayor of Nagano, Mayor Shoichi Washizawa, is extremely committed to continuous interaction, which has resulted in cultural understanding, immeasurable friendships and the enhancement of the Sister City program. The teacher and student exchanges have been the backbone of the Sister City Program. Every year Nagano sends two teachers for a one month working visitation. The teachers are placed with volunteer homestay families and Pinellas County School System coordinates the school schedule. Nagano also sends a group of middle school students and subsequently another group of high school students for one week of homestay and school visitation in Clearwater.

Class of exchange students from Japan in classroomThe Pinellas School Board of Education teacher exchange program began in 1983. Currently, two teachers are sent for one month in the summer to live with a homestay and teach English at several schools. The student exchange program, initiated in 1990, comprises a group of four students and a teacher/chaperone. Their purpose is to attend middle schools, give presentations, interact with students and enjoy life with a homestay family. Students previously stayed in Nagano for one month. Starting in 2005, the length of stay was changed to two weeks.

These mutually beneficial exchanges have had an extremely positive impact in promoting and nurturing cross-cultural relations in educational and community arenas. Long lasting friendships, deeper understanding and appreciation for our respective cultures are the bonds that connect our cities and make us one.

Exchange Program

Clearwater sends local high school students on an educational trip to Japan each summer. Four students are selected to receive a $2,000 scholarship that will go toward spending two weeks in Clearwater’s Sister City of Nagano, Japan as part of the Sister Cities International Exchange Program. The program is a partnership between the city of Clearwater and the Pinellas County School Board. Applications are available here.

Those in middle school have a option of going to Nagano, Japan as well through the Clearwater Sister Cities, Inc. Young Ambassador's program. Applications are available here.

Host Family Help

Our greatest obstacle to making a smooth exchange is finding suitable host families. Sister Cities is compiling a list of families willing to host either students or adults. Depending upon the exchange arrangement, hosting could be as short as a few days or as long as two weeks. Host families are expected to make arrangements for their guest to be dropped off and picked up according to a pre-planned schedule. This seems to be the greatest challenge for our families, so if you have contemplated hosting a student or adult, please allow us to see how we may assist you. Many times a student may attend the same school as your child. Don't forget your neighbors. You may be surprised to discover that they are either willing to help with transportation or interested in becoming a host family themselves. Please consider exploring this opportunity and sharing our need with others.

Click here for the Homestay Family Application 

For additional information please contact City Manager.

Clearwater Sister Cities, Inc. Membership

Annual Membership in the Clearwater Sister City Organization is $20 per individual or $30 per family. The organization promotes global friendship, communication and understanding through exchanges and activities. For more information, contact, or download a membership application here. You may also find additional information by visiting the Clearwater Sister Cities Facebook page and clicking "Like".