In late March, the Australia Japan Society of Victoria welcomed 18 participants to Melbourne as part of the Asian Pacific Children’s Convention Mission Project (a visit connected with the Invitation Project where Australian children visit Fukuoka each July).
The aim of the visit was to allow children from Fukuoka to be given an opportunity to go overseas and deepen their cultural understanding through participating in a program of home stay, school visits and cultural activities with local children. I know that the visit was a complete success with many opportunities to participate in family life and meet new friends.
The group was made up of 15 young people (aged 10 to 17) and 3 leaders. Whilst the leaders stayed in a city hotel, all the young people were hosted by AJS members, past participants of the APCC or school families connected with AJS members. Whilst the visit short (four nights in home stay), the participants managed to fit in many varied activities, including school visits, visits to Healesville Sanctuary and the Victoria Markets, beach trips, shopping, bush picnics, sporting events and a visit to the Japan Consulate. Some of the participants were also filmed by an NHK film crew who were filming a program to be shown on Japanese television encouraging children to study English and showing the opportunities to share the newly learned language.
A farewell party was held on the last evening of the visit and the host families were entertained by the group who sang traditional Japanese songs as well as more recent pop songs and showed us a traditional dance. At the end of the evening, the participants left the host families with tears both from the visitors and families!