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In the Pipeline: Young ambassador in her own right

March 26, 2014|By Chris Epting
  • Natalie Anzivino, at right, is seen with her mom, Maureen, at a recent City Council meeting presenting a banner for the Festival she initiated.
Natalie Anzivino, at right, is seen with her mom, Maureen,… (Courtesy Anzivino…)

In honor of its Sister City program with Anjo, Japan, Huntington Beach is hosting a Japanese Cultural Festival on Saturday with all kinds of exotic foods and free family fun.

Huntington Beach High School junior Natalie Anzivino came up with the idea for a festival. After she served as a student ambassador, she realized the Sister City program suffered from a lack of awareness and funding. To get more information on this fascinating event, I asked Natalie a few questions.

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Q: What first gave you the idea for the festival?

A: Last summer I represented Huntington Beach as a student ambassador to our Sister City in Anjo, Japan. The Sister City program changed my life.

Through my involvement, I got to share my city with students from the other side of the world and feel pride in all that my city has to offer, as well as experiencing firsthand living with a family from another culture. The Sister City program has fostered a relationship of reciprocal exchange between our two cities for over 30 years.

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Our City Council chamber lobby and conference room, as well as the pagoda that welcomes all visitors to City Hall, are all gifts from Anjo. Once I got involved, I found out that the city of Huntington Beach cut the funding for this program from the city budget, and 100% of the program is supported by volunteers and the families that are selected to host our Japanese students. As you can imagine, this is a very expensive thing for families to volunteer to do and limits the families who are able to participate.

I wanted to do something to bring awareness to the program and hopefully create a source of funding that would make this program viable for years to come.

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Q: What did it entail, pulling it all together?

A: First I met with the (local) Sister City Assn. volunteers and told them about my idea and asked them for help in contacting performers and other Japanese cultural demonstrators. I then had to meet with the city of Huntington Beach to get a health permit, sellers' permit, fire permit and other approvals.

Once everything was approved, I created a website, Facebook page and fliers to promote the event. After that, I presented my festival to Girl Scout troops, the HBHS National Honor Society and other groups to get volunteers to man the booths. This week I presented the festival at the H.B. City Council meeting and am working on getting the word out to the entire city about this great event.

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Q: How was your trip to Japan?

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