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Host families sought for Japan-America Grassroots Summit
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A dozen or so families are being sought in Hall County and Gainesville to host participants in the annual Japan-America Grassroots Summit in October.

Tate O’Rouke, director of economic development for the University of North Georgia, and the Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau are seeking families to host Japanese visitors.

The summit will be Oct. 4-11, and visitors will be in Hall County Oct. 6-8.

O’Rouke said Monday that Kazuyoshi Domoto, the executive director of the Japan-American Society of Georgia, asked for assistance with the project through UNG’s Global Engagement Center.

She said five families have agreed to be hosts to Japanese visitors and “we need at least 10 to 15 to ensure that it’s a success and that Gainesville continues to be a host city.”

She noted that anyone in Hall County may host visitors.

A welcome dinner is planned Oct. 6, and a day of activities are being planned for Oct. 7. She said that host families should plan activities for Oct. 8-9, which can be “taking them to their kid’s soccer game.”

The welcome dinner will be held at Lake Lanier Olympic Park and will feature barbecue dinner and bluegrass music.

The events Friday will start with breakfast with the Gainesville City Council and mayor at 8 a.m. and go until 6 p.m. It will include a tour of a Japanese-owned plant in the county, visits to Jaemor Farms and Sweet Acre Farms and Mule Camp on the square in Gainesville.

O’Rouke also said anyone who is familiar with Japanese culture or knows the language is welcome to be a part of the activities — whether or not he or she is hosting a visitor.

The summit is an annual one-week cultural exchange program for Japanese and American citizens of all ages. It is held alternately each year in Japan and the United States, the exchange’s website says.This will be the 26th annual meeting.

About 200 people travel to the host country each year. More than 15 Georgia towns and cities — in addition to Atlanta — will serve as hosts for the visitors.

Having the visitors stay with host families is a way to have them experience daily life here, the website notes.

O’Rouke, who was the volunteer coordinator for the Pan American Championships, can be reached at 678-717-2374.

Anyone interested in being a host family should visit the website and click on the “host family application form” in the middle of the page and fill it out online.

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