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Far from speechless

LIHUE — Shion Kosuge is excited about being on Kauai.

“I wanted to come here because I’m concerned about the environment,” said the Ishigaki High School ninth grader. “Kauai is also concerned about the environment and I want to see how we are similar. I also like English.”

Kosuge is one of three students from Ishigaki High School who arrived Wednesday from Japan for a one-week stay, primarily centered around the host Kauai High School.

Brian Yamamoto, Kauai Community College instructor, said the students received the trip to Kauai as a prize for winning an English speech contest.

“Ishigaki is very similar to Kauai, a little smaller with about 60,000 people,” Yamamoto said. “Their primary industries are tourism and sugar, very similar to Kauai. Their speeches were done in English, but is about Ishigaki and its relationship to Kauai.”

For her entry, Kosuge spoke of “Nature, People and Work,” earning third place.

First place went to Satoshi Higashiohama. Second place went to Himari Maemitsumori.

“This program is a great opportunity and experience for the students to travel, exchange and expand their horizons,” said Jane Qiu, coordinator of International Relations, Ishigaki City Hall. “We are very excited for another year of international exchange.”

During the group’s courtesy visit to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., they were met by Bill Arakaki, Kauai Area Complex superintendent, who traced his family’s roots back to Okinawa.

Yasuharu Ikemura, group chaperone, joined in as Carvalho broke out his ukulele and joined the three students in a rendering of “Furusato,” a popular Japanese children’s song.

The students will be staying with host families during their visit.

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