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Triumph overcoming tragedy, the beginning of friendships to come

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CRESCENT CITY – “They’re here because of a boat...all because of a boat. A boat washed up on our shore here that actually belonged to Takata High School,” Coleen Parker, retired Principal of Del Norte High School, said.  

That boat, from the Japanese high school’s mariner school is one of thousands of things and lives swept away in the East Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

“We lost so much in the disaster but we also gained something back when the boat was returned to us. And all kidding aside, we really mean this sincerely, it's changed us and so we wanted to be able to come back and say that and how much it meant,” a Takata High student said.

The boat traveled across the Pacific Ocean, landing in Del Norte’s Harbor two years later. Del Norte students volunteered to clean and repair the boat and then traveled back across the Pacific last March to return it.

“After the trip we came back and started thinking what if we have them come over here and see America, see California, see our town,” John Steven, a student at Del Norte High School, said.

Del Norte high school welcomed 14 students and four adults from Takata High. It's the first step in what they hope to be a relationship between the students, the schools, and maybe even the cities. 

“We're coming as a representative of our two schools to connect the two schools, so it's a big deal and it has a lot of potential,” a student from Takata High said.

The Takata High students are exploring the North Coast this week, just like Del Norte High student’s explored Rikuzentakata in 2013.

“It's very rural compared to their town so they're a little overwhelmed. They are nervous because their English is not quite what they thought it was,” Parker said.

But excitement and curiosity seem to be overriding those nerves as they sit in on American high school pep rallies and tour our eat lunch in the school's cafeteria. 

“I want to get to know more and more people and I want to keep these relationships going until we become adults,” another student from Takata High said.