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Americus-Sumter High students experience JapanFest

AMERICUS —Americus-Sumter High School students experienced Japan like never before at this year’s JapanFest Atlanta! The 33rd JapanFest was all about “traveling” to Japan to enjoy the traditions, natural beauty, and pop culture of the nation that is hosting the 2020 Olympics! JapanFest 2019 provided visitors with plenty of ways to get ready for the 2020 Olympics by learning about Japan through a wide array of performances, presentations, and authentic national cuisine that entertains, educates and delights. The annual event was held on Sept. 21-22 at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth.

“JapanFest allowed me to experience many different aspects of Japanese culture. I got to see karate, taiko drumming, and sumo wrestling. JapanFest also allowed me to practice Japanese with native speakers. I enjoyed this experience very much,” shares James Schopen-Davis who has been selected amongst twenty high school students to journey to Japan this Thanksgiving holiday sponsored by the GEN-J Program and the Japan Foundation.

Almost 20 Americus-Sumter High students attended the JapanFest event as volunteers offering their assistance in various capacities such as registration, orientation, greeting, vendor support, children’s playland, and VIP hosting. City Manager Charles Coney, also a Japan-America Society of Georgia (JASG) board member, attended the Sumter County Board of Education meetings requesting permission for a field trip request to this opportunity. He described it as “service learning in the context of expeditionary learning where the young people would be able to see firsthand the monumental task of implementing an event of this magnitude and complexity.” The board approved the trip and immediately Federal Programs Director Gayla Braziel went to work along with Principal Kimothy Hadley to identify student interest and make the transportation arrangements.

The students were intrigued but also demonstrated the quality of “workforce development” that is happening in our community as they excelled in their assignments garnering admiration from the JASG Executive Director Yoshi Domoto and JapanFest Manager Deborah Grant. A few of the students were solicited by the Japanese Consul General Kazuyuki Takeuchi’s office to support the VIP Reception being held in his honor where dignitaries included state legislators, county commission Chair Charlotte Nash, members of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, JASG board members, and State Superintendent Richard Woods.

“Due to the enormous contributions of communities like Sumter County, JapanFest has become the largest Japanese festival in the Southeast, and one of the largest in the United States. Every year, thousands of Americans are introduced to the culture and traditions of Japan through JapanFest, and it has done a great deal to foster good relations between Japan and the United States. We know that young people by nature are very busy, and so we deeply appreciate their dedication to come and further mutual understanding between Japan and the United States,” comments Director Domoto.

JapanFest is a production of JapanFest Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization, in association with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia and the Japan America Society of Georgia and is supported by the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta. Last year’s JapanFest welcomed almost 25,000 guests to the event.