Omihachiman Committee

Our sister city committee communicates and coordinates activities with the sister city committee in Omihachiman. Being a part of the Grand Rapids committee, we enjoy building friendships through the exchanges between our two cities. These friendships have grown over the years to include repeated visits and pen pal letters with each other. Student exchanges happen each year with host families sharing the culture of their area. Several delegations have also been organized to study the other city’s cultural aspects, city governance structure, educations system and lifestyle. We’ve sent delegations to Omihachiman, and Grand Rapids has received their mayor, among other delegates.

Jennifer Brown – Committee Co-Chair
“I could not imagine a better way to keep up with my Japanese language than by enhancing the understanding and mutual respect of the Japanese culture through cultural exchanges and promoting real economic development with our sister city.”

Timothy J. Blanch, Esq. – Committee Co-Chair
“After living and working in Tokyo, Japan for 3 years, the Omihachiman Committee allows me to stay connected with the Japanese culture in West Michigan. If you have any interest in Japan, I strongly encourage you to get involved with this wonderful committee.”

Anette Baron – Member
“I am a teacher with Grand Rapids Public Schools and have always been interested in diversity as a means to promote harmony in the world and facilitate my students’ learning.”

Don Bultman – Committee Member and Chairman of the GRSCI Board
“Over the 25 years I have been involved, it has been wonderful to observe the friendships and the positive relations that have been established through the exchanges that have taken place each year.”

Mayumi Balfour – Member
“I am interested in bringing people together to understand each other’s culture and thinking. Working with a lot of different cultures is my main goal in my life, so I am happy to help wherever I can concerning Japan (since I am Japanese).”

Gerry Cooke – Member
“I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture, from anime, to samurai movies, history, food and culture. The Sister City goodwill mission was a great way to see Japan. I participated in two goodwill missions in 2005 and 2006.”

Allison Smith – Member
“I joined GRSCI to obtain a better understanding of other cultures and customs, as well as to progress the Michigan/Shiga sister-state relationship.”