Now that we are home from our sister city Shichigahama Japan it is time for me to reflect on what we have accomplished on our trip. Before we left on our journey I attended a Finance Committee Meeting and was questioned on why the school was involved in this trip to Japan when the purpose is/was to be to increase marketing of Plymouth to our sister city. ( In addition to celebrating the 20th anniversary) We had a binder put together by the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce with information on tourism and businesses that would like to engage in increasing business relationships with our sister city. That binder was received well by Shichigahama and the town offices. I do not think though that the binders will be the greatest marketing tool, although it was an exceptional aggregate of information about Plymouth.
I believe that the best marketing we can do is to create relationships. I had a different binder that I took to be presented to our sister city. The binder I had contained over 100 drawings done by Ms. Brown's Geography classes in Ranger House at Plymouth Community Intermediate School. These drawing depicted 7th graders describing what Plymouth is like to them. They drew pictures of historical places, recreational activities as well as what life is like in Plymouth. Fashion, sports and traditional homes were also drawn to paint a picture of what Plymouth looked like through their eyes. Even special needs students participated with their drawings. All were included.
This binder was presented to the Superintendent of Schools in Shichigahama. He was SO excited, that he called over his two middle school principals, as well as their school committee chairman. Through a translator I explained to them about our plan to create a "pen-pal" relationship with the middle school students in Shichigahama and Plymouth middle school students. Each of them were on board and promised to reciprocate and start talking about a plan to forge ahead with this type of exchange. Our contact/translator at the international village, Marti, said she would also help us facilitate this endeavor. She plans on meeting with the school officials in the coming weeks to come up with a plan and to discuss future possibilities of an exchange through out the year. This was not going to be a one time deal.
This is marketing. This is creating relationships. It is my hope that this will go forward and strong because these are the future students who will be coming over in an exchange when they enter into high school. It will also be wonderful for our students in Plymouth to learn more about student life in Japan. It will be exceptional if at the middle school level they are given information and are able to inquire about what Plymouth is like and that will inspire them to come to the USA and make Plymouth their chosen destination. These students are also the future leaders of their community. We are planting a seed with the hopes that in the future it will blossom and grow even at a stronger pace than the past 20 years. These students are also the future business owners and decision makers. We can learn a lot from them, and they from us. This will also inspire our Plymouth students to visit Japan and truly engage in the exchange program.
It is only 4 days that we have left Japan, and I have already received a few emails from the people I have met. It is amazing that after only meeting someone for such a short time, and having a language barrier, there is common ground that can create a bond that will hopefully last a life time. Marketing at its finest, yet it might not be something that can be measured and put onto a chart. It can be measured though by its longevity and the strength of its bond. That is my goal.