Japanese Students Compete in Dragon Boat Race

Sister Cities Commission from Ami Machi Japan Teamed Up With Local Students for Race

SUPERIOR, Wis. – The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the biggest events in Superior each year. Students from Superior’s sister city in Japan got to experience dragon boat racing first hand.

Competing in a dragon boat race takes hard work., but more importantly it takes well executed teamwork.

“Despite the fact that the course doesn’t look that long, it’s probably the longest two and a half minutes of your life, so even though it’s only two and a half minutes, everybody’s like ‘that took me fifty hours,'” says Belissa Ho, Practice Coordinator of the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival.

“Strength doesn’t matter, size, age athleticism, none of that matters; only rhythm,” says Superior Mayor Jim Paine. “A team that works together wins.”

Last week, students from Superior’s sister city, Ami Machi, Japan, were in town and they tried dragon boat racing for the first time.

“In Japan I can’t experience this sport so I want to like this sport,” says Japanese student Marin Inoue.

They teamed up with local students to form two teams.

“With the Japanese students, it’s going to be especially fun because we don’t know each other that well, so we’ll build up our confidence with each other,” says local student Jonah Kroeplin.

The two student groups learned the sport and competed in a race together, getting to know each other in the process.

“We’re going to try to work on more non-word or verbal cues to try to keep everybody in time and with that it’s just kind of leaning each other and you’re going to have to kind of gel and sit next to each other and it’s very, very close on the boat so you get to know people pretty good,” says Ho.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine got involved in the race too and steered his dragon boat team to victory.

“I’m impartial in that I work for the festival all weekend but I am very partial once I’m on that boat,” says Paine. “Everybody loves to win and especially when I got to help train and coach these guys, it’s nice going across the finish line.”

He did that while showing off one of his city’s biggest assets.

“If you come to Superior, Wisconsin, you shouldn’t just see Lake Superior, you should get on Lake Superior and we had a chance to let them do that,” says Paine.

Japanese and American students learned more about each other.

“It’s really fun being able to communicate with them and have them try new things and it’s fun to see their reactions,” says Kroeplin.

The two groups created a team that transcended their different cultures.

“When everybody’s working at the same goal, paddling at the same time in the same direction, then you’re going to do well,” says Paine. “That’s the spirit of community in general, but especially the sister cities commission. We’re coming together to work on some common goals.”


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