Common ground found in sisterly visit

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Seven Japanese middle school students, three girls and four boys, recently spent an exciting week in Montevallo. Their visit was sponsored by the local Sister City Commission and was yet another feature of the friendly relationship between Echizen Town, Japan, and Montevallo.

The students and their chaperones, Mitoshi Shinji and Naomi Hashimoto, were guests of several local families. Among their activities were a tour of local schools, visits to the American Village and the McWane Center, swimming, picnicking, kayaking, line dancing, a day with the Olympics Day campers in Orr Park and a shopping trip. They especially enjoyed an afternoon spent creating cast aluminum sculptures at the University of Montevallo art center.

The week was crammed with American-type activities in the hopes that the Japanese young people would not only enjoy their visit, but would go home with a good understanding of America’s culture. Freda Shivers hosted three of the girls in her home.

“The girls enjoyed the southern fried chicken and corn bread, but weren’t crazy about the fried okra and turnip greens,” Shivers said.

Meg Moore, another hostess, said, “These children are really very brave, they’ve come to a strange country, are staying with families they did not know who speak a language they do not understand, but they adjusted beautifully and seem to be having a wonderful time.”

Other host families included those of Suzy Colley, Hollie Cost, Mary Jane Evans, Lynita Motes, and Kathy Weese. Cost coordinated the students’ visit. The Chamber of Commerce also provided several meals for the guests.

The friendly relationship between Echizen Town and Montevallo began 13 years ago with a common interest in pottery. Echizen Town is well-known for its unusual pottery and UM excels in teaching and creating the art.

During the ensuing years there have been many visits to both cities. Mayor Sharon Anderson, UM Professor Ted Metz and Jim Farris of the UM president’s administration visited Echizen Town in June of this year. Some of Montevallo’s middle school students will visit next year.

Catherine Legg can be reached at