Mayor Proclaims ‘Japan Week’ in Arlington
By Office of Communication
Posted on August 31, 2012, August 31, 2012

Tracy Winkles can't speak much Japanese and Tetsuto Yamauchi's English consists of three, maybe four words, tops.

Coca-Cola is one. Happy-Happy is another.

So Winkles, an Arlington mother of two hosting a pair of boys from Japan for the Japan-America Grassroots Summit, didn't need an interpreter to know what a 15-year-old from Japan wanted to drink with dinner that night.

"Happy Happy,-I understand that one," Winkles said. "So Coca-Cola it is."

Language may have been something of a barrier for the 14 members of the Ishinomaki Senior Little League team who descended on Arlington for a three-day stay beginning Thursday, but the teenage boys and their two coaches seemed quite moved by Mayor Robert Cluck's proclamation naming the days they were in Arlington as "Japan Week."

"We're so happy you're here-just thrilled," Cluck said during a brief ceremony in the City Hall lobby. "To have you here means a lot to you I know but also to us, to the people of Arlington."

This was merely one stop on a sort of American tour for these boys who are part of the 22nd summit that promotes cultural and economic relations by bringing nearly 200 Japanese participants to the U.S. and scattering them into 15 North Texas cities.

The Winkles are just one of nine Arlington families opening their homes to the Japanese visitors.

"We know communicating is the toughest part because of the language but I've found that even though we feel we're very different we're far more similar than we think," said Winkles, who enjoyed watching the boys kid around with one another. "They're just normal kids."

Following the proclamation, the players toured City Hall. They saw council chambers (they were thrilled to sit in the council chairs) and learned some Arlington history from Council Coordinator Patrick Embry while he explained the contributions of former mayor Tom Vandergriff.

The team was quite impressed with the size of Cluck's office and the mementoes he had on the wall, particularly the rendering of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

"This is real exciting; we're having a really good time," 15-year-old Kaito Suganomata said through an interpreter, Arlington resident Riho Yoshioka. "We're tired a little but it's fun."

They rested up before changing into their baseball uniforms to play the first two of four baseball games at Randol Mill Park; two more are scheduled for Friday.

On Saturday, the visitors have a day with the host families. The Winkles plan to take Tetsoto and Yota Kobayashi to a youth football game. They might hit Six Flags, if the boys are interested, and then go shopping.

"They want to go shopping so we'll do that," said Winkles.

Their other request? Steak.

"They asked specifically about the steak so we'll put some on the grill," she said. "Other than that, we'll just hang around here and do stuff. No matter what it is, just having them here will make it interesting."

By Ken Perkins

Mayor Proclaims

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