MORENCI — A generous donation from a Japanese mining company is funding a cultural exchange for local students.

The donation came following a quarterly visit by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. (SMM) and Sumitomo Corporation in September. The $210,000 will support educational activities for middle school through high school aged children in the Morenci district.

“The donation was made through the Morenci Sumitomo Scholarship Fund, operated jointly by SMM and Sumitomo Corporation. This funding will support bi-annual international exchanges and activities to strengthen the relationship between the two mining communities through youth,” officials said.

“With this donation, SMM and Sumitomo Corporation are determined to deepen their ties to Morenci and the surrounding community while continuing to contribute to the growth and development of current and future generations.”

SMM and the Sumitomo Corporation have a combined 28-percent ownership of the Morenci copper mining operation.

The first of these exchanges happened in September this year during the fall break. Morenci students traveled with Fairbanks Middle School Principal Anna Van Zile to Japan, following the students completion of scholarship applications where students wrote essays.

While there, the students toured mining facilities and learned about Japan and their hosts in Kagoshima Prefecture.

“Sumitomo and Isa Schools arranged an event featuring groups of middle through high school students from four different Isa schools, showcasing their local history and culture. This presentation included calligraphy, tea ceremony, and sushi-making demonstrations amid traditional Japanese dishes to try, some unique to the area,” officials said.

In total the students visited Japan for 11 days. While there they toured Tokyo by bike, visited the Hiroshima Peace Park, played taiko drums and more.

“Overall, this was a great trip. Along the way students experienced many new elements of a country and its culture that has centuries over our own.” Van Zile said. “And, finally, thank you Sumitomo Metal Mining and Morenci School Board for making this trip possible.”

“The group returned to Morenci with many new memories of a place and its people so different from ‘home’ made possible through Sumitomo’s desire to deepen its relationship with the local community, a goal that has been achieved through these students’ experiences in Japan and the stories they now have to tell.” Sumitomo officials said.

Sumitomo began its support for the Morenci school system in 1987.

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