Hikone-Ann Arbor Student Exchange Program

  • October 5, 2020

    It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rusty Schumacher, the founder of the Hikone-Ann Arbor Student Exchange Program.

    In Rusty's memory, we have set up the Rusty Schumacher Hikone Memorial Fund. Through Rusty's vision, middle school students from Hikone, Japan and Ann Arbor, Michigan have participated in a goodwill exchange program every fall. The program looks almost identical to how it did in 1978 when it was established, all thanks to Rusty's timeless vision. 

    To donate, please click hereFor questions, contact Jennifer Nemecek, International Education Partnership Coordinator for Ann Arbor Public Schools, nemecekj@aaps.k12.mi.us

    Fall 2020:

    Due to the COVID19 pandemic and the AAPS school closure, both AAPS and the city of Hikone have decided to cancel the Hikone Exchange Student Ambassador Program for 2020. 

    I know this decision will come as a disappointment, but we will try and create a virtual exchange instead so stay tuned. 

    Sincerely, Jennifer Nemecek, International Education Partnership Coordinator nemecekj@aaps.k12.mi.us

    Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship! 

    Hikone, Japan and Ann Arbor, Michigan celebrated 50 years of sister-city friendship in 2019. Join this Ann Arbor tradition and apply to be an Ann Arbor/Hikone Middle School Ambassador for 2020. 

    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 2020. This opportunity includes hosting a middle school exchange student from our sister city in Hikone, Japan in October of 2020 then traveling to Japan in November of 2020 to learn more about Japan and attend school in Hikone. Fourteen Ann Arbor middle school students and two teachers will be selected as the 2020 Hikone Ambassadors.

    The program begins in June 2020 and runs through November 2020. 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 language, 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 2020. Guests will attend class with their AAPS student ambassador. Ann Arbor students then travel to Japan for two weeks in November 2020 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.

    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 (...2018, 2020, 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 (....2021, 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.

    Soon, we will release the application for 2020 (travel year) for middle school students. Current 7th and 8th grade AAPS students are may apply to be a Student Ambassador. 


    - 7th grade AAPS Middle School students apply as 7th graders and travel to Japan as 8th graders.

    - 8th grade AAPS Middle School students apply as 8th graders and travel to Japan as 9th graders.  

    - Students must fill out and complete all parts of the Hikone 2020 application including two teacher recommendations.

    - 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 funds as well. 

    If you have questions, please contact: Jennifer Nemecek, International Education Partnership Coordinator nemecekj@aaps.k12.mi.us