Quilt to make journey from Duluth to JapanIn August, a handful of teenagers — and a quilt — will be traveling thousands of miles to one of Duluth’s four sister cities. They will cross the Atlantic Ocean and find themselves near the Pacific.
In August, a handful of teenagers — and a quilt — will be traveling thousands of miles to one of Duluth’s four sister cities. They will cross the Atlantic Ocean and find themselves near the Pacific.
But these teenagers aren’t going to Japan alone. Steve Knauss, co-chair of the Duluth/Isumi-shi Sister City Committee, and his wife Susan will be the chaperones of the trip.
“Travel benefits everyone,” Knauss told the Budgeteer. “It benefits life experiences, period.”
The students chosen had to go through more than just an application to become a part of this traveling experience.
“The students go through a written application process, but they also go through an interview, as well.” Knauss said. “Once accepted, students then have to go through the process of fundraising.”
As a gift to the mayor of Ohara, Japan, the quilters of North Country Quilters donated an originally designed quilt that depicts points of interest in Duluth using photographs.
“Knauss approached us and asked us if we’d create a quilt for their trip,” Barbara Mackinaw, publicity chair for the North Country Quilters, told the Budgeteer. “The quilt was designed and created by Barbara Vatalaro and quilted by Sandy Will.”
At a formal dinner on the trip, the students and chaperones will present the quilt to the city.
“The quilt is a representation of empathy,” Knauss said. “It’s saying ‘We’re looking out for you and thinking about you, even across the world.' "
“We [the quilters] were honored to contribute to the young students’ trip,” Mackinaw said. “We’re always happy to share our time and talents with the community.”
Besides a dinner with the mayor of Ohara, students will also have the opportunity to explore tourist attractions and events on their adventure from August 6 through the 16.
“Students will get to go to Sea World, go on a fishing boat and look for dolphins, go to spring training for sumo wrestlers, and go to Tokyo among other things,” Knauss said.
But one place they won’t be going is a hotel.
Instead, the students are given a host family to stay with. Next year, this family will visit Duluth, an exchange that builds personal connections, he said.
“I look forward to going to Japan and visiting with old friends and eating good food,” Knauss said. “That’s really what it’s all about. Seeing old friends and having a life-changing experience.”
“We hope that the students embarking on the trip enlarge their view of the world,” Mackinaw said, “and that they find it rewarding to view other cultures.”