Bloomington Normal Sister Cities

High School Exchange Program to Asahikawa, Japan

Program Eligibility

This program is funded by the City of Bloomington and the Town of Normal. To be eligible for this program you must:

  • Currently be a High School freshman, sophomore, or junior
  • Live in School District 87 or Unit 5.

Informational Meeting

  • Informational Meeting: Sunday November 24, 2013
  • Application Deadline: Monday January 13, 2014
Mail application to:
  • Akiko Wilson
  • 20 Linda Lane
  • Normal, IL 61761

The student applicant will supply:

  • An essay describing themselves
  • An essay describing their view of the program
  • The complete application
  • 2 Sealed letters of recommendation
  • 1 Official sealed High School transcript

See the application for complete details.


Questions? Contact Akiko Wilson, Co-Chair, BN Sister Cities High School to Asahikawa Program

Interviews with applicants and their parents:

  • Time and place to be determined.
  • Based upon written applications, selected students and their parents will be interviewed for 30-45 minutes.

About the program

Since 1962, Asahikawa, Japan and Bloomington/Normal have had a Sister Cities relationship. In 2012 we celebrated the 50th Anniversary. Our sister city relationship is one of the longest in the US.

High School Exchange Programs are among the premier programs sponsored by the Bloomington/Normal Sister Cities Committee. Since 1968 sixty-four Bloomington/Normal high school students have studied for about one year in Asahikawa as goodwill ambassadors, living with host families and attending school. This scholarship award includes transportation to and from Japan, living costs, high school tuition and fees, and a monthly stipend.

We seek one high school student who:

  • Is eager to make friends in Asahikawa and work as a goodwill ambassadors from Bloomington and Normal.
  • Is eager to learn, taking advantage of this unique opportunity.
  • Can adapt to the quite different Japanese life and customs.
  • Will respect and appreciate Japanese culture, customs, and rules.
  • Will be good representatives of Bloomington/Normal community and the United States.
  • Can motivate themselves throughout the year to keep studying Japanese language on their own with the help of a teacher. Language acquisition is the key to a successful stay in Japan.

The one selected student and the alternate student are required to attend a series of lessons in Japanese language and culture from the time of selection until departure to Japan. The committee will also help the student complete and acquire the needed travel documents.

The selected student typically leaves for Asahikawa in early August and returns to Bloomington/Normal in June the following year. While in Asahikawa student will attend high school, live with host families, and attend Asahikawa Sister Cities Committee events. They attend high schools from which our Japanese exchange students come. The student will have regular contact with officials in the International Affairs Office at Asahikawa's City Hall and with the Sister Cities Committee there.

The students is required to send a report every month back to Bloomington/Normal Sister Cities Committee.

After their return, exchange students are often called upon to accompany the Sister Cities Committee members at speaking engagements in Bloomington and Normal and to serve as "goodwill ambassadors" for the Sister Cities program.

Program Rules

This program has high expectations for the students we send to Asahikawa. These students represent Bloomington/Normal and the United States. Students and parents, please review the rules from our committee and the Asahikawa Sister Cities Committee.

Bloomington Sister Cities Committee Rules

Asahikawa Sister Cities Committee Rules