By Amy Fendley Mia Village lies in a valley, surrounded by the Japanese Alps. Down the road, Tekiama, a mini Kyoto is a tourist town with hot springs. Rice and forestry are their primary industries, and the students there have an intense desire to learn. In 1994 Mia Village, Japan was looking for a sister-city. A place of similar size and economic base. They approached the Village of Pemberton to be that place. Pemberton Mayor Cathy McLeod has just returned, with some Pemberton Secondary students, from a visit to Mia where she signed a joint agreement to pursue further relationships between the two villages. "We’ve been exchanging (students) for three years now with Mia," said McLeod. "We’re always invited to go back, but we couldn’t afford a delegation, so we paid our own way. The visit was fabulous, the reception, dinners, performances, the courtesy, the graciousness. They lined the streets as we came in." The visit was all about knowledge-sharing. "What struck me the most, was how similar the valley looked to Pemberton, but how different the culture was," McLeod said. "The first white person in Pemberton Village moved there in the early 1900s, their village is thousands of years old." The similarities between the Pemberton and Mia economic bases is striking. Pemberton, of course, relies heavily on the potato and forest industries; Mia on rice and forestry. But there are also extreme differences, which is why sharing through the exchanges is, and will continue to be, valued by both parties. "While we were there, they gave us the opportunity to plant a tree which was the offspring of a thousand-year old cherry tree," said McLeod. "They are going to send us one to plant here." McLeod has plans to send 36 students to Mia in May, but says the financial situation in Pemberton is another difference from Mia, where students there receive government funding for two-thirds of their travel cost. There has also been discussion about students coming to Pemberton to obtain pilots’ licences, because of the high cost of getting licensed in Japan.