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Cagayan de Oro and sister city Norfolk successfully complete First Cagayan de Oro-Norfolk High School Student Summer Visitor Exchange Program

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Sister cities Cagayan de Oro and Norfolk in Virginia, USA have successfully completed the maiden run of the high school student summer visitor exchange program with the six student delegates from Cagayan de Oro returning home with a rich experience of their 15-day stay in Norfolk.

The exchange program, held from July 01-15, 2018, gave the students from Cagayan de Oro the opportunity to experience family life in another country’s setting, hone their interpersonal skills, cultivate life-long friendships, and deepen cultural awareness and intercultural understanding.

“The exchange program was a great exposure for the students as well as their host families,” Mayor Oscar S. Moreno said, as he welcomed the students and presented them to the media in a press conference on July 30.

The mayor added that the program’s impact is strategic for the residents of both cities citing that their rich 15-day experience will be told in the stories our students will tell their family, friends and schoolmates, and the host families’ stories they will tell of their time with the students. “The retelling will go a long way and will foster stronger relations between the people of Norfolk and Cagayan de Oro.,” Mayor Moreno concluded.

The six students are Shaddrach John Lloyd B. Daba, Grade 12, Lourdes College High School; Lance Nathaniel B. Elot, Grade 11, Xavier University High School; Earl Joy B. Lopina, Grade 12, Xavier University High School; Reine Julia S. Madriaga, Xavier University; Marielle L. Paguidopon, Grade 12, Lourdes College High School, and Elkanah L. Ricardo, Grade 12, Oro Christian Grace School.

Norfolk Sister City Association (NSCA) has prepared an itinerary which enabled the students to gain a wealth of opportunity to appreciate a new culture and our very own on a fresher and deeper level. The delegates visited monuments, museums, parks, and sites unique to Norfolk like its naval base, botanical park and mermaid factory.

They met with officials of NSCA, as well as city councilors from Norfolk City. They were also given the opportunity to visit the Philippine Embassy in the District of Columbia, and tour the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC.

At the Young Global Citizens forum held for the faculty, staff and students of Academy of International Studies in Norfolk, our students received glowing commendations for their video and power point presentation on the Philippines and Filipino culture, and for ably handling their workshops on the Higaonon dance ritual “dugso”, Pinoy game, “takyan” and ancient writing system “baybayin”.

Eileen E. San Juan, Local Economic and Investment Promotions Officer of the city, and who is also the focal person of the sister cities program, said that the officials of NSCA were impressed by the students’ presentation.

In interactions with their host families, students and various groups in Norfolk, the delegates projected everything very Filipino and Kagay-anon at the same time studied what they could of American and Norfolk history and culture.

Maria Dulce T. Potenciano, Executive Director of the Local School Board and Chairperson of the Selection Team said that the student are back a new person, with their horizon widened. “From this rich yet brief exposure, they gained a wealth of experience,” she added.

The student exchange programis a new initiative of the sister cities relations of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines and Norfolk City, Virginia, USA. It is aimed at bringing the youth from both cities closer together in a brief yet rich summer program that promotes cultural awareness, and intercultural understanding.  

It may be recalled that Cagayan de Oro City and Norfolk City forged a sister city relationship on June 18, 2008. In the resolution signed by then Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro and Paul D. Fraim of Norfolk, both cities recognize their shared similarities as major port cities with maritime and tourism related activities and businesses. Both cities also share a treasured historic significance in that Norfolk is the seat of the General Douglas McArthur Memorial, and Cagayan de Oro has the largest replica of the general’s famous “scrambled egg cap”.

Since the twinning agreement has been signed, delegations from Norfolk have visited the city, and Cagayan de Oro has also reciprocated such visits. (CDO-TIPC)