The 40th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Montana and Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture arrived Friday with the exchange of a thousand folded cranes, a gift from student Ayano Izaki.
A delegation of 22 students from Tohoku University traveled to Montana for two weeks to study shared environmental issues, according to Deena Mansour, the executive director of the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. They spent time at UM, the Flathead Indian Reservation, the Flathead Lake Biological Station and in Glacier National Park.
The exchanges get “students sitting side by side, exploring shared issues, and recognizing how much we have in common,” Mansour said.
The “senbazuru” of one thousand folded cranes was made by Tohoku student Ayano Izaki, with 50 white cranes representing the 50 states. The senbazuru are symbols of peace, thought to bring good fortune and generally associated with a wish, Mansour said. In this case, Izaki developed it as a wish for peace between the U.S. and Japan.
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“If you look at this in the context of the pandemic, these cells and cranes also fulfill our wish for resumed people-to-people engagements that we’ve been