Commendation upon Mrs. Takako Wakita, Chair of Santa Barbara Sister Cities Board, on Wednesday, October 17. Consul General Akira Chiba praised Mrs. Wakita’s accomplishments and presented her with a certificate from the Foreign Minister of Japan.
The Foreign Minister's Commendations are awarded to individuals and groups for outstanding achievements in international fields and to acknowledge their contribution to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries. The Commendation also aims to promote understanding and support from the Japanese public for the activities of the honorees.
The biography and achievements of Mrs. Wakita follow:
1. Biography and Achievements
Mrs. Wakita graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in education from Hokkaido University of Education. In 1969, she moved to Santa Barbara with her husband, where she earned a Master of Arts in Asian Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Mrs. Wakita became involved with the Santa Barbara Sister Cities program as a volunteer in 1977, and subsequently has devoted her life to the sister cities program for 41 years. Since 1995 for the past twenty-three years, Mrs. Wakita has been Chair of the Santa Barbara Sister Cities Board in 1995 overseeing seven sister cities programs, including the Santa Barbara-Toba Sister Cities Organization for which Mrs. Wakita served as the first president from 1988 to 1990 and continues to serve as a board member. Mrs. Wakita has been responsible for the Santa Barbara - Toba student exchanges as well as exchanges of teachers, artists, community representatives including exchanges of mayoral and official city delegations.
Following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region, Mrs. Wakita helped organize initiatives to support the recovery of the oyster and cultured pearl industries in Toba. In 2016, Toba acknowledged her dedication during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Santa Barbara-Toba sister city relations. In 2006 and 2016, Mrs. Wakita was recognized as a Distinguished Volunteer by Sister Cities International in Washington D.C. for her dedication to friendship and understanding of different cultures.
In 1984, Mrs. Wakita established the Japanese Language Program at Santa Barbara City College where she has not only expanded the program, but continues to teach Japanese and Japanese culture. At the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Mrs. Wakita has been a member of the Tea House Management Committee and facilitates instruction of Japanese Tea Ceremony.
2. Award Ceremony
The award ceremony conferring the Foreign Minister’s Commendation upon Mrs. Takako Wakita took place on Wednesday, October 17 at the Official Residence of the Consul General of Japan with Mrs. Wakita’s brother and sister-in-law attended from Japan, along with other family members, friends, fellow sister cities board and members and students of tea. In conferring the Commendation to Mrs. Wakita, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Akira Chiba outlined her many achievements over decades, her dedication to the Santa Barbara-Toba Sister Cities Organization and her promotion of Japanese culture.
Mr. Mark Hamilton, Vice President Santa Barbara-Toba Sister Cities Organization and Mrs. Sally Hamilton, Board Member, Santa Barbara-Toba Sister Cities delivered congratulatory remarks extolling Mrs. Wakita’s service as the backbone of all the Santa Barbara Sister Cities, a wonderful leader and for changing lives. Dr. Anthony Al-Jamie, President of Southern California Sister Cities commended Mrs. Wakita as a model citizen diplomat and led the entire group in a toast. After a commemorative photograph, the attendees enjoyed a reception with Consul General and Mrs. Chiba.