2019 Adult Trip to Japan!

To residents of Salem and friends of the Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange:

It gives us great pleasure to offer you an invitation to join us on a trip to Ota-ku, Tokyo, Japan this July.

This incredible 15-day excursion includes a 1-night homestay and travel throughout Japan with Tokyo residents and members of our club. This is not a typical bus tour!

Because of the wonderful relationship between our two cities, we are able to offer this opportunity to adults who reside or work in Salem (and if you choose, a non-resident traveling companion.)

The cost of the trip will be approximately $3,800 per person which  includes round trip airfare, lodging, all ground transportation, and meals.

Spots fill early so if you are interested or have questions, mail Peter Dolan, trip organizer, by October 11, 2018.  Travel dates are tentatively July 1st- July 15th, 2019.

I hope that you can join us. Please do not miss the chance of a lifetime!

Goodbye to our Students!

Another exchange has gone by, and we’ve said our goodbyes to new friends. The students and teachers departed from Boston Logan Airport safely this morning and are on their way back to Ota!

2018 Host Family Schedule

Hello host families, Here is:
-a draft schedule which will be updated daily (Pick-up times are always subject to change because of Boston traffic)
-sign-up sheets for the many things we need you for
-a spot for head counts.
Questions text/call Denise 978-587-5649 or denise@granniss.com

Sign-Up Genius

Monday, July 308:15 amDrop-off and Goodbye to our studentsPEMBring tissues and all their belongings!

Ota Student Visit July 22-July 31

The students arrive in on July 21st and will be staying in Boston that evening, and will meet their host families on July 22 in the afternoon at the House of the Seven gables. Their week will be filled with fun, learning experiences and the warm welcome of their Salem families. We will bid them goodbye on July 31, after which they will spend another (short) evening in Boston before flying home on August 1!

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

What a great year 2017 has been for the Salem Ota Cultural Exchange! Here are some of the developments and highlights.

  • Increased financial support from the city including the creation of a city position: liason to the Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange. Deb Jackson is currently filling that role. She is the Director of Assessing for the City of Salem and was part of our Homestay program with her kids from 1995 to 2003. Her sons visited Japan in the Exchange in 2001 and 2003.
  • Creation of a student liaison on the governing board. That role is currently being filled by Abigail Clark whose family has been part of the Homestay program since 2015. She traveled to Japan in the Exchange in the summer of 2016.
  • 28 students and their teachers arrived from Ota the week of July 23-31  We are grateful to the host families who welcomed them into their homes and hearts and the many businesses that partnered with us; The House of the 7 Gables graciously welcomed the students learning about Salem; the Salem Witch Museum again provided the students with free tours in Japanese; the Knights of Columbus hosted our goodbye luncheon; and finally, we partnered with the PEM to host the Goodbye Party in their  beautiful atrium which resonated with the exuberant and powerful Taiko drumming of Odaiko New England as host families, students and museum visitors participated in an Obon dance. A new highlight of the week was meeting with the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston.
  • We continue to award a $500 scholarship to a student who participated in the Exchange with us. Sophie Parr was this year’s winner. She is a Salem High School graduate who is now at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. 
  • 9 adults went on the summer adult trip to Japan which took place June 22- July 9. The City of Ota rolled out the red carpet for them and they enjoyed the programming at PEM’s sister-museum, The Ota Folk Museum other highlights were the wonderful presentations by the schoolchildren at Haneda Elementary and Kojiya Junior High schools.
  • Students who went to Japan in 2016 taught origami to the  children at the YMCA Summer Activities Fair.

Looking ahead

It will be a busy year!

The Middle School students from Ota will be with us July 22-30. We are lining up host families now so if you and your family want to be a part of this exciting, immersive week please fill in the survey now!

To complete the exchange, we are sending 11 high school students from Salem to Japan in August.

We will host adults from Ota this Fall. We will be looking for adult hosts for 2 nights. Keep an eye out for those sign-ups in late spring.

In addition, we will host Assemblymen from Ota in the fall.

The 2018 scholarship application is now live and accepting applications. If you know seniors in high school who participated in the Exchange with us, please let them know! The deadline is May 4th.

We are partnering with the Salem School Department and History Curriculum team leaders, with the help of the Peabody Essex Museum, to bring Dr. Edward Sylvester Morse and his achievements into Salem schools’ curriculum. The irrepressible Dr. Morse was a Director at the Essex Institute, now the Peabody Essex Museum and the catalyst of the work we continue today. A committee has now formed to support this endeavor. Please join us if you are interested!

Thayer Award

We are delighted to announce that in October, 2016, the Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange was awarded theJohn E. Thayer, III Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cultural Exchange between the United States and Japan given by The Japan society of Boston. This prestigious award represents the incredible partnership and the cross-cultural understanding between the people of Ōta City, Tokyo, Japan and Salem, Massachusetts. We have been exchanging school-aged children and adults continuously for 25 years while creating rewarding and lasting friendships.

Erin Dolan, Keiko Thayer and Peter Dolan


On behalf of the Board, Members, and exchange students of The Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange, I welcome you to our website. The Salem-Ota site is designed to offer the community a snapshot of the Sister-City programs and cultural exchange opportunities that are available to students and adults.

Whether you want to learn more about our travel programs, what happens on homestay visits, or if you want to catch up on our fundraising activities and programs, we hope that this site fulfills your needs.

Present students and their parents, as well as alumni visitors and friends should access the Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange page to stay current with events and activities. To gain information regarding the Sister-City agreement, our Mission, or other background information please visit the About Us page.  For schedules and information during homestay weeks, please see the Adult Visit or Student Visit pages. To catch-up with on-going monthly meetings, the opportunities to donate or participate in fundraisers, or to view photo’s of past events, please explore the Events tab and Photo Gallery.

We hope that you will find everything you need. Thank you for showing an interest in supporting an ongoing relationship with the wonderful people of Ota-Ku, Tokyo.


Erin V. Dolan

S-O C.E. President