Meet your Commissioners – Part 3

Feb 14, 2013
Kay Vreeland

The Edmonds Sister City Commission will be leaving soon for Edmonds’ sister city, Hekinan, Japan.

Representing the City of Edmonds will be members of the Sister City Commission, Mayor Dave Earling and other citizens.

In an effort to give background on those representing Edmonds and the importance of the commission, the Beacon is presenting profiles of the Sister City Commission.


Beth Fuhriman


Beth Fuhriman is a past secretary of the commission and is a liaison with the local school district to provide information about future Edmonds student delegations and to coordinate local student volunteers to help with Hekinan students during their visit.


Who you are?


My husband and I moved to Edmonds in 2004 to be near my father as well as our son.  Our daughter lives in Southern California.  Professionally, I have been involved in education, music, and cross-cultural training.  Since 2004, I have been organist at Mukilteo Presbyterian Church.


What is Edmonds Sister City Commission (ESCC) for you?


The Commission provides a wonderful volunteer opportunity to be involved in this interesting community, encouraging its cross-cultural connection with Hekinan. This is my sixth year on the commission.


What is your connection with Japan?


Our family moved to Tokyo in 1968.  Our new neighbors were patient with us as we struggled to learn Japanese.  We worked in Christian student ministry on university campuses for four years.  Followed by eight years in the U.S., we returned to Tokyo in 1981 for another 12 years.  Opportunities to travel within Japan increased our appreciation for its natural beauty, and resulted in a number of lifelong friendships.

Our children spent their teen years in Tokyo, and benefited from the multicultural environment of an international school, becoming comfortable with cultural diversity.  As adults they continue to reap the benefits of an international worldview and the values of cross-cultural friendships.  We return to Japan periodically to visit.


What are you bringing to ESCC?


Living in Japan impressed on me the reward of investing effort in building cross-cultural friendships.  There is much to learn from people in another country.


Do you have a dream for ESCC?


The Sister City Commission has a role mandated by its mission statement to be a catalyst in connecting Edmonds area students and adults with people in Hekinan, Japan.   My dream is that through the exchange events organized by the Commission, local residents will see the significance of visiting Japan and also of hosting visitors from Hekinan in their homes.


Kay Vreeland,

Social Media & PR Outreach


Originally Texan, I'm a retired university professor of literature and computers and the humanities whose career was in Japan. I've been living near the Edmonds ferry for a year and a half.


What is Edmonds Sister City Commission (ESCC) for you?


The Commission is a way to stay connected to Japan, where I lived for almost 35 years. Our mission is to promote international communication and understanding through exchanges of people, ideas, and culture. Via student and adult delegations, it is a delight to help cross-cultural exchange grow and deepen between our two cities—and keep up my Japanese.


How long have you been a Commissioner?


One year: I came on to the Commission in March 2011, although I attended several meetings before becoming "official."


What is your connection with Japan?


Landing in Japan in March 1970, just as Expo 70 got underway in Osaka, I began my career as a university professor at one of the oldest women's universities there. Almost 35 years later, I moved back to the USA, and miss Japan!

Strong memories as different as becoming very good in calligraphy and of the 6.8 magnitude 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake taught me about Japanese openness to foreigners, strength, kindness and resilience. I'm delighted to still be web editor of a writers' and translators' organization in Japan.


What are you bringing to ESCC?


A love of and nostalgia for Japan, the ability to understand our cultural sameness and differences, the ability to speak Japanese (getting rustier by the day), and a passion for social media that can help in the commission's community outreach are skills I use working for our two Sister Cities.


Do you have a dream for ESCC?


How exciting if more Edmonds residents drew closer to Japanese culture, touched Japanese people via homestays and activities together when delegations visit here, and learned about Japanese culture, history and arts!

I dream of the Sister City Commission involving more local folks and so making our city more internationally minded!

Of course, I dream of travel scholarships so students can go to Japan for two-week summer exchanges, but I also dream of local people experiencing our sister city's Japanese tradition and culture.

Local student volunteers and the Friends of the Sister City are our eager supporters, but I will be happy when I see more residents joining in activities with our Japanese guests.

Beth Fuhriman
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