Meet your Sister City Commissioners Pt. 4

Feb 14, 2013
Paul Anderson

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.


Ray Olitt


I’m Ray Olitt, a commissioner on the Edmonds Sister City Commission.

I am retired after many years working as a Manager of Training and Organizational Development for a number of companies in California and Washington.

This involved planning and teaching classes on leadership, communication skills, and teamwork and conducting a variety of teambuilding activities for employees.

My wife and I have lived in Edmonds since 1990 after moving from California. I was raised in Berkeley, Calif., and received my B.A. from the University of California in Riverside, my M.A. from Rutgers University, and my Ed.D. from U.C.L.A.


What Is Edmonds Sister City Commission to You?

It is a wonderful opportunity to serve the community and support the importance of human relations, diversity, and international cooperation. These values have been important to me for some time.

I was active in the civil rights movement, served in the Peace Corps in Iran, sponsored a Diversity Council at work, and co-authored a book on human relations in the workplace.

Now that I am retired, I have more time to try to live these values, and the Commission is a great vehicle for this effort. It is also a great way to learn more about and from a very interesting culture.


How Long Have You Been on the Commission?

I am a newbie, appointed in November 2012.


What is Your Connection to Japan?

My interest in Asia developed when I spent a summer in India on a good-will tour with a group of college students. After the Peace Corps, I traveled through Asia.

When in Japan, a young couple approached me in a restaurant and invited me to stay at their home, which proved to be a great learning experience.

Years later, I taught some courses in Hong Kong, after which my wife and I traveled through Japan.

Since my retirement, I have been active with the Creative Retirement Institute at Edmonds Community College, teaching a course on Asian Culture and taking courses on the Garden of Japan, Buddhism, and different cultures. For my course and others, Japanese students at the college have come to discuss their culture.


What Are You Bringing to ESCC?

I feel I can make a positive difference. I consider myself to be very conscientious, hard working, pretty good at interpersonal skills and teamwork, and open to learning.

I also care a lot about the mission of the Commission and feel we have much to learn from exposure to the people of Japan.


Do You Have a Dream for ESCC?

I hope we increase significantly the number of people who participate in and support our activities. And I want all of these people --- both here and in Japan – to consider their participation to be one of their most meaningful life-time experiences. I am optimistic that those who do get involved will have that happen.


Paul Anderson


Paul Anderson is the newest member of the Sister City Commission, having only been appointed two months ago.


Who are you?

We moved into Edmonds 32 years ago and have raised our four children here. I am a product of the Edmonds School District starting with kindergarten and graduating from Meadowdale High in 1970.

We were fortunate to have a Japanese family in our neighborhood and this is where I first became interested in Japan. I also traveled to Mexico and Haiti to help build churches and schools.

After 35 years working as a Union carpenter, with part of that as a Superintendant for Wilcox Construction, I retired.

I am now back at the Edmonds School District driving school bus. Crazy as it may sound I enjoy working with the students.


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

The commission allows me to continue my passion to work and share Edmonds with other Peoples and cultures, especially with Japan. I want to nurture the relationship between our two cities and cultural exchanges that we have all benefited from for the past 25 years.


How long have you been a Commissioner?

I was confirmed as a Commissioner the middle of December. I have had to hit the ground running, with all the activities surrounding the 25th Anniversary celebration.


What is your connection with Japan?

Even though we have not hosted any students from Hekinan, We have hosted 11 Japanese students over the last two years. These students live in Tokyo, Osaka, Himeji and Gotemba. I am in constant contact with most of them and their friends through social media. The Hekinan trip provides me with an opportunity to visit some of them as I will go a week early and stay in Osaka.


What are you bringing to ESCC?

Having hosted these students I have a desire to see more students come and share their lives with us. I have been able to connect with these kids even though we don’t share a common language. You have to have a sense of humor and humility, which I seem to possess, working with them.


Do you have a dream for ESCC?

I knew we had a Sister City but never had much information about it. My dream is to see that all the citizens of Edmonds know about our relationship with Hekinan.

I would like to see more people get involved with hosting the Japanese exchange students and volunteering. It took hosting students to get me involved.

We always showed the students, visiting with us, the Japanese garden at the Centennial Square and the friendship pole at the beach.

We also need to look at ways to raise funds to help provide scholarships for the student exchanges.

I hope the outcome of meeting the commissioners in these articles brings this to pass.

Ray Olitt
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.