Exchange Programs

The Edmonds Sister City Commission has three different exchange programs with their City Sister of Hekinan, Japan: 1) Student Exchange 2) Assistant Language Teacher 3) Adult Exchange. More information on each program can be found below.

Student ExchangeWeb Poster


For the past 24 years during the last two weeks of July, the Edmonds Sister City Commission has sent a student delegation, along with 1-2 chaperones, to Hekinan, Japan for a 13 day homestay. And, for the past 24 years during the first two weeks of August, Hekinan has sent a student delegation, along with their chaperones, to Edmonds for a 13 day homestay. To be eligible students must: 1) be between the ages of 14-18 at the time of the exchange 2) be in good standing in their classes (at time of application submission) and 3) be able to host a Hekinan student during the Hekinan student delegation stay in Edmonds. Students are responsible for their airfare, $350.00 for chaperone airfare, and their own spending money. Chaperone desired skillset: 1) certificated teacher, school administrator, or interest/knowledge of Japanese culture/language 2) experience leading groups of students 3) able to fullfil the time commitment for the trip, orientation meetings and presentation to the Edmonds City Council after the trip. Over the years this remarkable program has enriched the lives of hundreds of Edmonds and Hekinan students and their families, along with dozens of area teachers who have acted as chaperones. The application process for the student exchange opens every year in late October and runs through mid-February. The application process for chaperones opens every year in October and runs through mid-January. During that time, links to the application packets for both will be posted here or can be obtained by calling the Mayor's Office at 425.771.0247.

Host family opportunities
The Commission is always looking for great host families for our adult exchanges that take place during special anniversary years. Host families play a very important role in our exchange program and enable us to continue this 24+ year tradition. If you and your family would like to experience this cross-cultural interaction please let us know by contacting the Commission.

Adult Exchange

Since the Edmonds/Hekinan Sister City relationship was formed in 1988, over 1,000 people have traveled between the two cities. Typically, delegates stay in homes and are given opportunities to meet residents and business owners and experience the respective cultures first-hand. Adult exchanges generally take place every 5 years or on significant anniversary dates, i.e., 5 year anniversary, 10 year anniversary, etc. Other adult visits have also occurred on significant anniversaries of either City, such as the 125th anniversary of the City of Edmonds. 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Edmonds and Hekinan. The next adult-exchange is scheduled for 2023.

Assistant Language Teacher - ALT

Next recruitment opportunity for the ALT position in Hekinan, Japan TBD.

An important element of the Sister City relationship is the ongoing presence of an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) selected by the Edmonds Sister City Commission and hired by the Hekinan Board of Education for a 2-year term. The ALT assists the Japanese language teachers in five of the Hekinan middle schools and in many ways is Edmonds' unofficial "ambassador" to Hekinan.

Sister City Contact

Meeting Schedule
The Commission meets the fourth Monday of every month (NO MEETING IN DECEMBER) at 6 pm at the Frances Anderson Center, Room 123, 700 Main Street, Edmonds. Meetings subject to change. Due to COVID-19, meetings are currently being held via zoom:
Webinar ID: 974 1144 9400
Passcode: 449274
Or Telephone: Dial US: +1 253 215 8782 or 877 853 5257 (Toll Free)

Commission Members
Rae Podrebarac
Katy Renz
Greg Lange (Co-Chair)
Gillian lim
Laura Braithwaite Otto (Sec.)
Iyoko Okano
Michele Fellows (Co-Chair)
Karyn Heinekin
Gabe Longoria

City Staff
Carolyn LaFave, Exec. Asst. to the Mayor

Sister City Commission

Current Openings

Office of the Mayor
425.771.0247 (phone)
425.771.0252 (fax)