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Montebello-Ashiya Student Ambassadors Announced

From left: 2017 MASCA Host Ambassador Noah Lopez, 2017 MASCA Student Ambassadors Alicia Amamoto and Celeste Zepeda at the installation reception at Beverly Hospital in Montebello. (Courtesy of Michael Okamura)

MONTEBELLO — The Montebello-Ashiya Sister City Association (MASCA) announced its two 2017 student ambassadors at the installation reception on April 27 at Beverly Hospital, hosted by Alice Cheng, CEO and president.

The ambassadors are Alicia Amamoto, 16, daughter of Andrew and Aileen Amamoto, and Celeste Zepeda, 15, daughter of Ceferino and Lorena Zepeda.

Alicia expressed her gratitude to MASCA: “I’m representing the youth of Montebello and looking forward to sharing American ideals and my way of life in Montebello with the youth of Ashiya.”

She will complete her junior year at Schurr High School, where she’s into basketball, volleyball, running, playing the ukulele, singing, and trying different foods.

Celeste commented, “I’m honored to represent my city as student ambassador, which will be a great way to exchange and learn about each other’s cultures and make new lifetime friendships.”

She will finish her sophomore year at Notre Dame Academy, where she’s involved in robotics, rocketry, theater, Coding Club, and Student Council.

The young representatives will depart on July 23 and arrive in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture the next day to begin their three-week Japanese cultural immersion, which includes living with host families.

Announced as the 2017 host ambassador, Noah Lopez is 17 years old and a senior at Don Bosco Technical Institute. He will serve as host to Ashiya Cosmopolitan Association’s 2017 student ambassadors, Eriko Yamakuma and Sakura Hanashima, when they arrive on July 31 and live with host families in Montebello for three weeks.

In 1961, Montebello and Ashiya signed an international agreement as part of the People-to-People Student Ambassador Program initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Since their respective sister-city organizations created the Student Ambassador Program in 1964, they have been exchanging two high school or college students every summer.

MASCA is a nonprofit community organization. For more information, visit or contact Michael Okamura at

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