By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
A group of Japanese students got a taste of Oklahoma.
Local Rotary Clubs hosted the group last week through the Wings of Rotary program. Students from Japan spent about a week in Oklahoma. In June, a group of local students will travel to Japan.
On Saturday afternoon, Midwest City’s Rotary Club hosted an “Oklahoma Hoedown” at Ken and Sally Newey’s home. The group enjoyed outdoor games, line dancing, horseback riding, country cooking and s’mores.
The Midwest City and Japan Rotary Clubs also exchanged flags. Midwest City Rotary President Shane Willard and Jin Sato, Japan District 2520, presented each other with a small flag from their club.
The Japanese group includes seven students and adult sponsors.
Their trip also includes visits to Oklahoma City, Weatherford, Enid, and Stillwater. The host clubs plan different activities and trips for the group. While in Oklahoma City, they went to Top Golf, Oklahoma History Museum, Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City Art Museum and an Oklahoma City Thunder game and others.
Students stayed with local host families throughout the trip.
The Rotary Youth Exchange Program between Oklahoma District 5750 and Japan District 2520 is more than 40 years old. The Oklahoma district includes the central and western parts of the state.
“This is a really cool program, and we have friends that we expect to keep for the rest of our lives,” said Keith Oehlert, Rotary Club of Oklahoma City. “This is a lifechanging trip for these students.”
The program was put on hold in recent years due to the pandemic. It was also canceled in 2011 due to the tsunami in Japan.
For more information about the Wings of Rotary program, visit rotary5750.org and select “Youth Services” on the top and then “Wings of Rotary.”