Delray Beach, Florida - - - On March 20, 2010, at the annual gala for Delray Beach Elks Club, K. Anthony “Tony” Durante proudly received the Citizen of the Year award. The Elks club also awarded recognitions to 3 other people and those awards were for Delray Beach Police, Fire and Ocean Rescue.
Tony Durante was recognized for his volunteer work as the Teacher (aka known Sensi in Japanese language) who trains and prepares the selected high school students of the exchange program offered by the Delray Beach Sister Cities program. The Delray Beach Sister Cities program hosts a bi-annual student exchange program with Miyazu, Japan which is one of the official affiliate sister cities of Delray Beach.
As coordinator/teacher of the sessions over the years, Sensi Tony Durante has developed a very comprehensive orientation and training program to prepare the exchange students for their role as Student Ambassadors. As the Sensi, Durante spends more than a year conducting regular weekly teaching sessions, workshops and local field trips with this selected group of high school students to teach them about the Japanese culture, language and protocol as well as sessions about city government/history/community features of Delray Beach.
For the high school students to be eligible for the Delray Beach Exchange Student program, the student must attend a high school in Delray Beach or be a resident of the City of Delray Beach. The seven students who were selected for the year 2010 trip are from Atlantic High Community School, American Heritage School and Boca Raton High School; and as to residency, they are from Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Wellington.
Tony Durante, age 42, is a native of
Delray Beach who was born and raised in the historic African American neighborhood of Jefferson Manor. Durante speaks Japanese fluently. He became interested in the international cultures at an early age with the Japanese culture becoming his more in-depth interest. He began teaching himself the Japanese language at that early age and to pursue his interest, he gained employment at the Morikami
Museum in Delray Beach, Florida during his high school and college years and continued to perfect his mastery of the Japanese language and knowledge of the culture.
Durante completed the elementary and middle school grades at Trinity Lutheran School of Delray Beach, and graduated from high school at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach. He received a college Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from Florida Atlantic University-Boca Raton campus. After college graduation, Durante spent more than 2 years living and teaching in
Japan as a Christian missionary for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod organization. Upon his return from Japan, he was recruited and hired by the Delray Beach Police Department as a member of the police force. He worked as a Police Officer from 1995 to 2001. In 2001, Trinity Lutheran Church and School recruited him to join the staff there and offered him the position of Director of Discipleship. He has been and is currently in that position since 2001.
During the 2 years that Tony Durante was in
Japan, he met and is married a Japanese young lady named Junko Oto and returned to the United States with her as his wife. They now have three daughters: Aya (student at Atlantic
High School), Mika and Tae’ (both are students at Trinity).
The sister cities program is an international organization created in 1956 by President Dwight E. Eisenhower as a people-to-people citizen diplomacy in an effort to increase global cooperation and promote cultural understanding in hopes of decreasing the chance of future world wars and conflicts. The City of Delray Beach established the official sister cities affiliation with Miyazu, Japan in 1977 to develop and strengthen a bond of friendship with that city because it was the hometown of George Morkami who had donated over 200 acres of land to Palm Beach County for whom the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is named. In 1999, the City of Delray Beach added another sister city affiliate and that one is with the City of Moshi,
Tanzania, East Africa.