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Annual Report (2018) for Asian Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka (APCC)

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the APCC and six Junior Ambassadors (JA’s), one chaperone, one Bridge Club Australia President, one Liaison Officer and one Bridge Club Head Office member were invited to attend the Convention. Three other Bridge Club Australia members also attended the associated Anniversary program. The six JA’s were Alice Darby (Roberts McCubbin Primary School), Niko Nakayama (Geelong Christian College), Olivia Robinson (Derinya Primary School), Alastair Bowles (Eltham East Primary School), Matthew Gome (St Joseph’s Warrnambool) and Lachlan Wilcox (Canterbury Primary School). The children were accompanied by Janet Whittle (Chaperone), Adam Payne (BCA President), Heather Darbyshire (Liaison Officer) and Erin Maitland (BCIO HO). Sophie Mc Cracken-Evans, Jo McCracken and Hayley Roberts (BCA Australia)

The opportunity to participate in the Asian Pacific Children’s Convention is offered to children learning Japanese at primary school and children of AJSV members and we hope that the project continues to run for many years facilitated by the Australia Japan Society of Victoria.  The children selected to attend participate in 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 three boys and three girls are selected. 

In preparation for the convention, four preparation meetings (including a sleepover) are held to ensure that the children are well prepared for their July trip. During these meetings, parents and children are 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. We have been extremely lucky to have Barmah hats come aboard and donate ‘Akubra’ style hats for our children to wear whilst in Japan. We thank them for their sponsorship and hope to maintain an ongoing relationship with them.

The program for the Junior Ambassadors followed the general format for the convention, including orientation camp with the 240 other JA’s from all around the Asia Pacific regions, home hosting by Japanese families where they spent time visiting school as well as many sights in Fukuoka and tourist spots and the Performance Event held in central Fukuoka where each country performed an item celebrating their culture which was then live streamed to parents, friends and interested supporters all around the globe. Given it was the 30th Anniversary of the APCC, the JA’s also participated in a special celebration event where all participants including past JA’s, Bridge Club representatives and Liaison officers were joined by her Imperial Highness Princess Mikasa as well as representatives of Consulates in Fukuoka, business supporters of the APCC and other distinguished guests.

As this was the 30th Anniversary of the APCC/10th Anniversary of Bridge Club International Organisation (BCIO), the 3rd Bridge Club Presidents Meeting was held concurrently with the convention. The purpose of this meeting was to prepare a strategy growth of BCIO and strengthen the BC network. Adam participated in this program with the new structure of BCIO discussed and workshops to assist in an intern program, leadership skills. Bridge Club Professional Network was also discussed with the view to expanding the opportunities and connections that past JA’s have as a result of being involved in APCC.

A partnership meeting with the Liaison Officers to hear about the introduction of the APCC New Concept for the 31st APCC and beyond was also held.

As part of recognising the need to expand their programs and provide new opportunities and experiences, both to Japanese children as well as overseas participants, APCC has been progressing new strategic directions including the aim to develop Global BRIDGE leaders through a range of programs. To this end, Liaison officers were invited to attend the 30th APCC to hear about (and commit to) an APCC Global Partnership agreement – committing to realizing APCC Vision and nurturing youth as APCC Global Bridge Leaders who ‘link our world and act as change agents in today’s global community’.

Mission Project

In March 2018, Australia hosted Mission Project which allows for children from Fukuoka to be given an opportunity to go overseas and deepen their cultural understanding through participating in a program of homestay, school visits and cultural activities with local children. Once again, the families involved had a great experience and the children who visited had the opportunity to participate in family life and meet new friends. Without the commitment of the host families, this project would not have been able to occur and I would like to thank not only the past Junior Ambassadors who hosted but also their school family friends who volunteered to host as part of the program, Again, thanks to Roberts McCubbin Primary School who provided facilities for the welcome and farewell functions.

The group was made up of 15 young people (aged 10 – 17) and 3 leaders.  The visit included with a trip to the Japan Consulate and lunch at La Porchetta as well as time with host families attending school, sporting games and other activities including the Eureka Skydeck, Healesville Sanctuary/Melbourne Zoo, beach trips, shopping, bush picnics and sporting events. 

A farewell party was held on the last afternoon 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! 

Success of such a project requires the commitment of many people, in particular - the host families who freely gave their time to making this visit such a success as well as the support of Bridge Club members and other AJS members.

Heather Darbyshire

AJSV-APCC Liaison Officer

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