Cities officially ‘sisters’

A delegation from Echizen Town, Japan was welcomed with Southern hospitality to its sister city of Montevallo last week.

Echizen Town Mayor Takanobu Seki, along with the economic development director and town council president, arrived in Montevallo Wednesday.

Thursday, the delegation toured the city’s elementary, middle and high schools, and dined with University of Montevallo President Philip Williams.

The delegation then toured the UM campus, the Aldrich Coal Mine Museum and the city’s parks and golf course before attending a reception to mingle with residents and UM students at Reynolds Hall. It was there Mayor Seki reflected on his tour.

“The city’s really clean and really nice,” Seki said through translator Yuki Kihara. “Even though the U.S. doesn’t have a long history, you can feel the history in [the university].”

Seki was thoroughly impressed with the city schools, saying teachers were highly motivated to educate students.

“I really like the classrooms. There are 15 to 18 students in the classrooms,” Seki said. “In Echizen Town, the classrooms have about 30 students.”

Seki continued, “Here, all the students are taken care of no matter what level or skill. I really like that.”

UM students patiently waited in line to meet Seki.

Junior Hayley Williams and sophomore Rachel Daniel both share a curiosity about Japanese custom.

“My ceramics teacher told me about this and I thought it was interesting they were going to make this connection with us here in Alabama,” Williams said.

“I’m highly interested in Japanese culture and I study the language so this is exciting,” Daniel said.

Senior Damien Bush decided to attend the reception simply because of its rarity.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of something like this happening,” Bush said.

Friday, the delegation signed an official treaty establishing Echizen Town and Montevallo as sister cities at Parnell Memorial Library. A formal reception followed at the home of Mayor Sharon Anderson.

The delegation capped off their visit in Tuscaloosa to watch the Crimson Tide take on the University of Kentucky at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday — a fitting end to an Alabama tour.