Educational Exchange

Getting to know each other, one student at a time.

Before the pandemic, multiple exchanges took place each year between students and teachers as a part of our sister city program. In 2020, all in-person exchanges were put on hold due to pandemic travel restrictions, but this annual tradition of friendship and education was able to resume in June when a delegation of 9 students traveled to Hanamaki.

In the fall, Hanamaki student delegations travel to Hot Springs. The students stay with host families, visit area schools, attend sporting events, and learn what life is like as an American teenager.

Each year the Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation accepts applications from Garland County students in grades 8 – 11 to be a part of a student delegation that travels to Hanamaki each summer. Some scholarships are available, with an annual Cherry Blossom Festival being held to raise funds for the scholarship fund. 

Applications for students desiring to be a part of the 2024 student delegation are now available by clicking on the link below.  Applications are due by 4PM ON JANUARY 15 and require letters of reference and documentation from schools. 

In addition to student delegates traveling to Hanamaki for educational exchange, a small delegation of Garland County educators take part in an educational exchange each year. The program, sponsored by the Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation, invites teachers and administrators to apply for a scholarship to represent Hot Springs in traveling to our sister city. Teachers homestay, learn about the history and culture of Hanamaki, and visit area schools. The teachers are then able to bring back best practices to share in their classrooms and with other teachers and administrators in their home schools.

Sister school relationships

The following schools have sister school relationships and many take part in arts, video, and student exchanges each year.

  • Sasama Daini Elementary School and Fountain Lake Elementary School
  • Hot Springs Middle School and Hanamaki Junior High
  • Jessieville Middle Schools and Ohasama Junior High Schools
  • Lakeside High School and Hanamaki Higashi High School
  • Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and Arts and Hanamaki Kita High School

For more information about how you can be involved in hosting guests or traveling to Hanamaki as a student or teacher delegate, email