PLAINS, GA (WALB) -
President Jimmy Carter joined Japanese students in his hometown as part of an annual exchange program. Carter welcomed about 25 Japanese high school exchange students through his own school doors Thursday morning.
The group is the 23rd delegation to come to Sumter County from Konu, Japan and Miyoshi City, joined by the Mayor Kazutoshi Masuda. They've been part of a friendship exchange that began with Carter in 1991 as a symbol of peace, after he participated as the highest ranking U.S. official in the Hiroshima Memorial.
"It was very important to me to have friendship with Japan," said the President.
"They decided 'Hey' it would be great if we had an exchange where students come to Americus and Sumter and our kids and teachers go over there," said Sumter County Schools Tech Director, Chris Usrey.
Each year, the Japanese students come to Americus through the partnership to make new friends and learn about our country. Then each spring, Sumter County middle and High students do the same in Japan.
"It's motivated me to keep on studying English and keep having dreams to be part of this friendship and delegation too," said former student and English teacher Akiko Hasegawa.
In today's meeting at Plains High School.. President Carter shared his many experiences during his travels to Japan. In return, the students were able to ask about his time in office and future goals.
"I was our first American leader to visit Hiroshima after the atomic weapon."
Superintendent Donnie Smith added, "Just to extend our friendship and to increase the levels of understanding between the two countries as well as promote peace between the nations. We view it as an opportunity for our students to learn culturally as well as students to come learn our culture."
And with each year President Carter hopes to continue their relationship as a sign of peace between our two countries.