By Jack Brox McCarthy
Two thousand miles away, on the other side of the world, the Concord Minuteman spins on a weathervane. There is a street named Concord and classes are offered about our culture and rich history. For 25 years, the towns of Concord and Nanae, Japan, have nurtured a strong sister-city relationship. Though unfamiliar to many, this important friendship has thrived through exchanges between our schools, our citizens and town officials, and special events sponsored by the town of Nanae and Concord’s volunteer Concord-Nanae Network (CNN).
Since last year, it has been my pleasure to serve as Concord’s representative in Nanae. Every two years, Nanae hires a graduate of Concord-Carlisle High School to live and work in Nanae. My roles are varied. I teach English and classes on American culture and history. I have spent mornings with nursery school children crawling all over me while we try to cook takoyaki together. I have spent late evenings teaching English to adults, using Concord’s landmarks as examples. I have gone trick-or-treating and made Halloween costumes. Every day brings some new adventure. Living and working in Nanae has been an extraordinary experience, and I am sure my predecessors in the job feel the same way.
Before COVID-19, Concord sent student and citizen delegations to Nanae and participated in the William Wheeler Exchange, where one student lived in the sister city for a month. The school bands have played together, here and in Japan. As a high school student, I was fortunate to be part of a school delegation. Now, six years later, I have reconnected with my host family and have spent many evenings sharing food and laughter with them. Enduring relationships with host families are the glue that keeps the two towns connected.
The most visible hallmarks of the sister-city relationship are the events, cultural classes, and shared programs, but its real value lies the connections made between citizens of Nanae and Concord. These important relationships give texture and meaning to our lives, and their importance cannot be overstated.
This October, Concord will be granted yet another opportunity to enrich these relationships as we welcome our first Nanae delegation since 2019. The delegation will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sister-city relationship with a signing ceremony at the Town House on October 29 at 8 p.m., open to the public. Check The Bridge for more updates about this exciting new chapter!