Student Exchange Program

The Student Exchange Program is the heart and soul of the sister city's purpose: to offer fun and excitement for students and their families while getting a taste of foreign culture. It is an opportunity to make new friends and explore Japanese values, as well as provide students from our sister city with a better understanding of our own culture and what it means to be American. Since 1971, more than 120 young people have participated in the program.

The exchange lasts for two to three weeks, from late-July to mid-August. Each student stays with two different host families for about half the home stay period.

UPDATE 3/21/22 - We report with great sadness and regret that due to Covid-19 restrictions still in place in Japan affecting the Tondabayashi side administration of the program, the Sister Cities have had to POSTPONE the 2022 exchange once again.  This will have the practical effect of pushing everything back one year to maintain the turn order of students visiting each city.  There will be no visit during 2022, and the program will continue in 2023 with a visit from Tondabayashi students to Bethlehem.
 
During even-numbered years, Bethlehem students travel to Tondabayashi, which is near the city of Osaka. All expenses, except airfare and spending money, are covered by the city of Tondabayashi and their host families. Activities are provided at no cost to the students.  Upcoming years include 2024, 2026, and 2028.
 
During odd-numbered years, families in Bethlehem host students from Tondabayashi. Host families are encouraged to include the visiting students in all their regular, summertime activities. Group activities are also planned for the visiting students, and host families and other community members are welcome to participate in most of these as well.  Upcoming years include 2023, 2025, and 2027.
 
High school students in the Bethlehem Area School District - public, charter, or private - are eligible to apply.
Please see the Application page!