Twenty years and 700 students later, the partnership between Okanagan College and a college in Japan has taken root. Literally.
The relationship between Okanagan College and Toyota Technical College may have started two decades ago, but as the 700th student from the Japanese institution prepared to graduate on Friday, the relationship between the two colleges is just starting to blossom, say OC officials.
Last week, Toyota Technical College president Kazunori Ikeyama helped Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton plant a Japanese cherry tree at the Kelowna campus in honor of the 20th class of Toyota Technical College students who had attended a summer program here in the Okanagan.
“This honors our partnership and celebrates our friendship,” Ikeyama explained to the assembled students and staff from the two institutions.
“This partnership has turned into a strong and enduring friendship between our institutions, our employees and our communities,” noted Hamilton. “To honour that relationship, its history and bright future, we are dedicating a tree to commemorate this occasion.”
Hamilton said the two sides chose to plant a Japanese cherry tree, also known as a Sakura. “This tree, which is native to Japan, will serve as a year-round reminder of our friends at Toyota Technical College. Its beauty and strength is often associated with the spirit of the Japanese people.”
The partnership provides the Japanese students with experience and training in auto collision repair through OC’s trades and apprenticeship training, at the same time that they have a chance to develop English language skills through the College’s international department.
During the four-week visit to Canada, the students are introduced to Canadian culture through activities and sightseeing.
“This started with one of our collision instructors—Chris Burns—who has shepherded and nurtured the relationship with TTC,” said Hamilton.
“Twenty years later, he takes as much pleasure as he did with the first class in sharing Canada, training these students, and developing friendships that cross borders.”