Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange Seeks Local Host Families

Host a student from Ota, Japan from July 23-July 31 this summer!

The Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange is seeking host families for 28 middle school students from Ota, Tokyo, Japan, who will be in Salem from July 23 through July 31. Salem families with a middle school or high school age student are invited to contact the Exchange to sign up. The Exchange provides a full schedule of activities for each day of the exchange student’s visit, as well as optional evening group activities.

Host families are asked to provide their student with a bed and meals. No knowledge of Japanese is required as the Ota students are learning English. While preference is given to families who live in Salem, those from neighboring communities are also welcome to apply.

“It is such a special and life-changing program, for both the students and the host families,” said Deborah Jackson, the City’s liaison to the Exchange program. Jackson’s family helped found the original incarnation of the Exchange, the Salem-Ota Club, in 2000, and hosted Japanese students for eight years. Both of her children went to Ota as part of the exchange, as well. “Ota students get the opportunity to tour Salem and Boston, experience American culture first-hand, and improve their English language skills. As a host family, you and your children also benefit, with the opportunity to make a new friend, gain a new world view, and grow and strengthen local connections with your fellow host families here in our community.”

To learn more about the Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange, visit To apply, contact Constance Arlander at 978-979-0037 or, or Midori Oka at 978-809-0949 or


About the Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange

The cities of Salem, Massachusetts and Ota, a borough of Tokyo in Japan, have a sister-city relationship that began in 1991 as an outgrowth of the century-old affiliation between Salem's Peabody Essex Museum and the Ota City Folk Museum.

Through this unique relationship, hundreds of students, educators, cultural and business representatives, and municipal officials from Ota have visited Salem as participants in the sister-city exchange. Other Ota residents, aware of the special relationship, as well as additional travelers from all over Japan, also visit historic Salem as tourists and on private visits.

Every year, residents of Salem open their homes as hosts to Japanese students and adult visitors. The City, the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem State University, and the Salem Public Schools all cooperate with Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange to host sister-city visitors in the spirit of international hospitality. Likewise, groups of Salem area students are welcomed and hosted in Ota each summer.

The Salem Ota Cultural Exchange was formally organized as the Salem-Ota Club in the spring of 2000. It was renamed the Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange to better reflect the organization’s purpose and has incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization. While the formal sister-city relationship is only 26 years old, the spirit of the exchange is deeply rooted in Salem’s rich maritime past and the historic connections between Salem and Japan.