This week Menomonie school district will be visited by seven Japanese students from Menomonie’s sister city Nasukarasuyama, Japan.
By now the students have arrived in Menomonie. They stay with a host family and take in the area for five days. The group of students will be in the states for a little more than a week, but some of that time includes travel and a trip to Mall of America.
Nasukarasuyama is about two hours outside of Tokyo. There are four middle schools in the area, and each school will send a few students to Menomonie each year.
Nancy Horner, Menomonie school counselor, said the students will get a good look at school and city life and the surrounding rural area.
“Their eyes are just fascinated by the farms,” she said.
One stand-out attraction is when the students get to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin.
Ironically, a Laura Ingalls Wilder replica cabin was built in Nasukarasuyama in 1989.
Horner said the author happens to be fairly popular in that area. “Little House in the Big Woods” and “Little House on the Prairie” were even adapted into an anime called “Laura, the Prairie Girl” that aired between 1975 and 1976 for 26 episodes.
Horner said Menomonie City Hall and the school district typically receive gifts. Gifts the city has received in the past are plates, origami art, pottery and glassware. The school district has been gifted an engraved pen and some literature.
The city is pretty involved with showing off the area as well, Horner said. Mayor Randy Knaack will take the visitors on a tour of some of Menomonie’s attractions.
The Japanese students will also visit Oaklawn Elementary School to teach third grade students about life in Japan and will join in the homecoming parade.
On their final day, Horner said the exchange students will treat the host families to a dinner before they fly out the next day.
“There are always tears,” she said.
This relationship started on May 23, 1991. That’s when Minaminasu (now Nasukarasuyama) and Menomonie signed a sister city partnership in the UW-Stout Crystal Ballroom. In 1994 the Menomonie Middle School visits began.