Hikone-Ann Arbor Student Exchange Program

  • Due to the COVID19 pandemic and the AAPS remote learning status, both AAPS and the city of Hikone have decided to cancel the Hikone Exchange Student Ambassador Program for 2020 and 2021. The exchange will resume in the fall of 2022 when Ann Arbor students can visit Hikone and Hikone students can visit Ann Arbor. Applications for the exchange will be available in February/March of 2022.

    Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship! 

    Hikone, Japan and Ann Arbor, Michigan celebrated 50 years of sister-city friendship in 2019. 

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools is pleased to offer our seventh and eighth-grade students the opportunity to apply to be a student ambassador for 2022. This opportunity includes hosting a middle school exchange student from our sister city in Hikone, Japan in October of 2022 then traveling to Japan in November of 2022 to learn more about Japan and attend school in Hikone. Fourteen Ann Arbor middle school students and two teachers will be selected as the 2022 Hikone Ambassadors.

    The program will begin in June 2022 and run through November 2022. Students will take Japanese language and culture classes over the summer and through early fall. Activities include learning Japanese etiquette, sampling Japanese food, making paper cranes, learning Japanese, history and culture, preparing to attend class in Japan and living with a Japanese family. Fourteen students and two adult leaders become a close-knit group through this 5-month experience. 

    If accepted to the program, AAPS families will host their Hikone guests for one week in the fall, from September/October 2022. Guests will attend class with their AAPS student ambassador. Ann Arbor students then travel to Japan for two weeks in November 2022 and live with a student, attend school and participate in sightseeing activities. The program does not guarantee that students will be paired with the exact same student both in Ann Arbor and Hikone but we make every effort to achieve this goal when possible.

    Applications for the Ann Arbor/Hikone exchange will be available in February/March of 2022 and will be open to middle school students who will be in 7th or 8th grade in the spring of 2022. If you will miss this opportunity because you will already be in high school, you can apply for the high school version of this program sponsored by the state of Michigan and the state of Shiga. For more information about the Michigan-Shiga High School exchange, click here. The high school exchange is managed by the Japanese Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) at MSU. 


    Background Information and Timing for the Exchange

    For the purpose of this program, even-numbered years are called "travel years" and odd-numbered years are called "non-travel years." In even-numbered years (...2016, 2018, 2022...) the Hikone students come to Ann Arbor for a week in October and stay with local host families, then we send 14 AAPS students to Hikone, Japan in November. In odd-numbered years (....2015, 2017, 2023...), the Hikone students come to Ann Arbor for a week in October and stay with local host families but no Ann Arbor students travel to Japan in that year.  In summary, even though the Japanese students come to Ann Arbor every year, we only send our AAPS students to Japan every other year.


    - 7th grade AAPS Middle School students apply as 7th graders in the spring of 2022 and travel to Japan as 8th graders in the fall of 2022.

    - 8th grade AAPS Middle School students apply as 8th graders in the spring of 2022 and travel to Japan as 9th graders in the fall of 2022.  

    - Students must fill out and complete all parts of the Hikone application including two teacher recommendations an essay and an interview.

    - There is a cost to participate on this program, however the final budget and fees will be announced with the application release. Scholarships are available and the group fundraises for money as well.