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Annual Report (2019) for Asian Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka (APCC)

BRIDGE Summer Camp (previously known as Invitation Project)

Last year marked the 31st anniversary of the APCC and as indicated in last year’s report, APCC have re-envisaged the program, renaming the various components. As indicated, it was decided by APCC to reduce the number of invited participants from each country with an option to ‘pay’ for additional participants. It was decided that Australia would only select and send four Junior Ambassadors and following a selection process, the following Junior Ambassadors were selected:

·        Lucas (Derinya Park Primary School)

·         Jarrah (The Patch Primary School)

·         Vanessa (Wesley College, Glen Waverley) and

·        Zara (Warrandyte Primary School).

The children were accompanied by Jess White (Chaperone) who had been a Junior Ambassador when she was eleven.

Bridge Club Australia selected Stephanie Clare Cover (JA 2008) as the Peace Ambassador and Erin Maitland attended as a Bridge Club Head Office Member.

Applications for Junior Ambassadors were called for from Victorian primary schools teaching Japanese and approximately 30 applications were received. The children were invited to a selection day where children are observed doing team building activities, public speaking and other games designed to show their strengths and readiness to participate in such a program. Short listed children are then invited to an interview with chaperone/s and BCA members following which two boys and two girls were selected.

In preparation for the convention, four preparation meetings (including a sleepover) were held to ensure that the children are well prepared for their July trip. During these meetings, parents and children were introduced to the background of the convention, the aims and expectations of the program as well as what to expect whilst in Japan. Each family is encouraged to seek donations of souvenirs as well as other promotional items to share whilst in Japan.

The program for the Junior Ambassadors followed a new format this year designed to allow an increased opportunity for local children to participate in the program. Following arrival, the children attended an orientation camp with the international children, designed to allow them time to get acclimatised, as well as some activities with the other children. During this time, the Aussie JA’s had fun in the sun dressed in yukatas! 

This was followed by homestay with local families. The children were welcomed into the Yokote community (one that is familiar to past participants as hosting Australia in 2007 – 2009). Joined by Stephanie (PA) who was staying with her original 2008 host family, the children enjoyed attending school as well as participating in family life, sport and activities. This homestay experience is always a highlight of the trip and the host families were so welcoming and supportive of the children, ensuring that they experienced new food, explored the sites and neighbourhood and were totally spoilt!

A highlight of this time was the Performance Day, held in central Fukuoka where the Australian JA’s performed ‘I am Australian’. This provided an opportunity to share some of the history of Australian people from the indigenous Australians though to more recent arrivals.

Following 5 days in homestay – the focus of the program moved to Global Arena where all the children were joined by approximately 300 Japanese children for two days. The program allowed the children to explore a range of topics and activities. Zara was selected to participate in a forum discussing sport – both in Japan and participating countries. She eagerly discussed the range of sports played here in Australia, both within the school setting and in the wider community. She was a great representative clearly sharing her ideas and participating fully in the discussions.

Running of the program was assisted by the Peace Ambassadors as part of their program (which had involved earlier lectures, site visits and group discussions relating to the future direction of Bridge Clubs within participating countries.

One special activity that all the participants including chaperones, PA’s and JA’s was the opportunity to write down their hopes and dreams for the future and they were displayed like the tanabata festival. The happy smiles on the faces show just how much the group enjoyed their experiences at camp.

The opportunities that the APCC program offers to the young people of Victoria is unique and provides AJSV an opportunity to connect with the children selected as well as the past participants who are being encouraged to expand their connections with AJSV members and organisations for a mutual on-going benefit

Heather Darbyshire

AJSV-APCC Liaison Officer

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