Mitchell is currently a sophemore and attends Oak Grove Academy Home School. He is the son of Michael and Michelle Ratcliff of Normal, IL. Mitchell has already started Japanese language preparation lessons.
The High School Exchange Program is among the premier programs sponsored by the committee. Since 1968 Bloomington/Normal high school students have studied for about one year in Asahikawa as goodwill ambassadors, living with host families and attending school. This scholarship award includes transportation to and from Japan, living costs, high school tuition and fees, and a monthly stipend.
The selected student typically leaves for Asahikawa in early August and returns to Bloomington/Normal in June the following year. While in Asahikawa, the student will attend high school, live with host families, and attend Asahikawa Sister Cities Committee events. The student will have regular contact with officials in the International Affairs Office at Asahikawa's City Hall and with the Sister Cities Committee there.
The selected student is required to attend a series of lessons in Japanese language and culture from the time of selection until departure to Japan. The committee will also help the student complete and acquire the needed travel documents.
The student is required to send a report every month back to Bloomington-Normal/Asahikawa Sister Cities Committee. After their return, exchange students are often called upon to accompany the Sister Cities Committee members at speaking engagements in Bloomington-Normal and to serve as "goodwill ambassadors" for the Sister Cities program.
This program has high expectations for the students we send to Asahikawa. These students represent Bloomington/Normal and the United States. Students and parents interested in participating should review the rules from our committee and the Asahikawa Sister Cities Committee.
The current 2016 – 17 exchange student is Nicholas Modine, a student at Normal West High School.
Lauren Laine, 2015
Lexie Seward, 2014
Anna Sekiguchi, 2013
Kylie Eagles, 2012
Kae Mason, 2012
Christopher (CJ) Clark, 2010
Alejandro Montesdeoca, 2009
Chris Nobre, 2008
Amanda Poore, 2007
Donnie Chang, 2006
Patrick Carmody, 2004
Danielle Strle, 1998
Each year we host one high school exchange student from August to June. The student will stay with several host families and attend a local high school. The student receives a small monthly stipend from the committee to help offset the cost of minor expenses.
The current exchange student is Nagisa Sugawara. In Asahikawa, she attended the Commercial High School. She has two sisters and a brother and her favorite activities are learning English, watching movies, listening to music and watching sports. Her goal is to teach Japanese in foreign countries. About being an exchange student, Nagisa said, "I want to experience the life of an American high school student; I feel learning to adapt to this country will help me learn to adapt changes in my future. I look forward to learning more about Bloomington-Normal and the U.S." Nagisa attends Normal Community High School.