The Fremont-Yahaba Friednship City Program has been in formal existence since the signing of the Friendship City Charter July 23, 1995. Previously, the respective mayors of Yahaba, Iwate and Fremont, Michigan recognized the start of their relationship with Fremont hosting the first exchange of students, teachers, and community representatives January 6, 1992. In 1995, a Friendship City Board of Directors was formed to create and carry out the mission and goals of the Friendship City Program. In 2002 the program became incorportated; And in 2005 the program became a 501c3 nonprofit entitiy.
The existence of a Friendship City Program in Fremont represents a unique opportunity for the community. Few communities of comparable size have the capability to forge a relationship with a city at an internatuonal level. The support of the Fremont Area Community Foundation, Fremont Public Schools, Yahaba International Society and individual community involvement has given Fremont an opportunity to successfully achieve this internatnional project and continue strengthening the ongoing cord uniting Fremont and Yahaba.
Loren Edwards, Director - Teacher, Fremont Middle School
Mike Paige, President - Newaygo County Friend of the Court
John Cooper, Vice President - Retired Fremont Mutual
Kirk Parkhurst, Treasurer - Teacher, Fremont Middle School
Todd Blake - Finance Director, City of Fremont
Curt Crandall - Business Owner, Fremont
Rick Kynsz - Retired teacher, Career Tech-Center
Zoe Harmon - Financial Adviser, Ameriprise Financial
Sandy Siegel - Executive Director, Community and Governmental Relations, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial
Jeremy Stariha - Personal Trainer, Tamarac Fitness Center
Jane Vitek - Director, NCCS Camp Newaygo
Lon Vredeveld - President, Vredeveld Shoes Fremont
Board of Directors
The Fremont, Michigan community desires to reach beyond our borders and create an atmosphere where international understanding and an exchange of ideas can flourish.
- Continue the measured success of currently running programs for the children and adults of our community such as the exhcange program at the middle school, high school, and community level, letter exchanges between the schools' students and administrators, art exchange of children of all ages, and community receptions for visiting delegations.
- Enhance ongoing community exchanges in the areas of interest, such as: art, agriculture, business, culture, education, and athletics.
- Utilize various communication tools such as the internet, e-mail, scholastic newsletters, chamber mailings, newsletters, and booklets to enhance exchange and growth between the two friendship communities. Use these methods to enhance the awareness of the program and promote the goals.
- Encourage continuing long-term relationships between individuals, groups, and home-stay families as another way of evaluating the long-term benefits for participants Expand the alumni base through activities, networking inform civic and service organizations.
- Work to develop a secure financial base of support to help ensure continued programs.
The overall purpose of the program is for the community to experience the Japanese or American "way of life" through a reciprocal exchange of delegations. Students and faculty of Fremont Middle School and Yahaba Junior High have participated in this exchange since 1992. The inclusion of students and faculty from Yahaba's new junior high school (Yahaba North), and Kozukata High School (located in Yahaba) have been involved in this ongoing exchange since 1999.
In addition, representatives from each respective community have also been delegation participants. Each delegate member is hosted by a "home-stay" family and is involved in a wide variety of educational, social and cultural activities. Participating students prepare a cultural presentation and activity to teach in their host school. Each visiting student presents up to eight times while attending their host school. The teachers have found it very informational observing educational practices in another country and on a few occasions actually instructing a class. Since 1992, over 400 students, 100 teachers, and 150 community members from both cities have been part of exchange delegations traveling to their friendship city and hosted by local people in the communities.