Although I have three other cities in other prefectures that I consider additional homes in Japan due to the ties I’ve made through extended or multiple homestay experiences, I’ve never introduced myself as being from Seki, Tahara, or Hirakata. I have had the pleasure instead of introducing myself in the Kanto and Kansai regions, and even in New Orleans, as being from Matsue. I wasn’t lying, really! I was there to represent the city as one who is part of the city! Do not be fooled by my features, I came from Matsue!

Speaking of New Orleans, we just had a group visit for a TOMODACHI Initiative exchange program, the second part of a two-year grant. Last year the Japan Society of New Orleans hosted a group (and I got to tag along as part of the official city delegation!), and we got to return the hospitality this time.

The Friendship City relationship between Matsue and New Orleans, due to their shared links with Lafcadio Hearn, is now 21 years old and I’ve had the pleasure of being a key person for a very active period in their exchange history. Besides being the primary point of contact and managing all the communication and translation at official and often unofficial levels, I also teach people in Matsue about New Orleans. At first I was hesitant to do this because I had only basic familiarity with this very, very unique city, but I’ve learned a lot and got to learn even more by actually visiting there and being some of the representative eyes of Matsue. Now it is up to the group we just hosted to go back and tell the people in New Orleans more about Matsue as they saw it!

Nevertheless, I still most confidently claim that I am from Colorado Springs, and I am very happy to give presentations about my hometown too. I should still try to go to Fujiyoshida at some point and visit my own Sister City…