Wednesday, 1 October 2003

Chairman's Report 2002/3

The past year has been very successful for the Frankston Susono Friendship Association. We completed celebrations of our 20th anniversary, held a very successful Japanese Fair and Performing Arts Concert won the overall award at the ASCA conference and saw a resurgence in our Student Exchange Program.

Our Executive this year has some new faces with Michael Fuller, Bill Oldjohn and Olivia La Combre joining the team. Thanks to all the FSFA Executive for your support and good work.

Probably the highlight of the past year was our Japanese Fair and Performing Arts Concert held on 7th and 8th of September 2002. A delegation came from Susono to help us celebrate that included the famed Mr Akiyama and his student Taiko group. They performed over the weekend.

The weekend started with our annual Japanese Speech contest organised by Des Dean. The larger venue was well received and continues to get great support from local schools. Well done Des, a great effort.

Our Japanese Fair continues to set standards for the demonstration of Japanese culture and handicrafts. We are acknowledged in the Japanese community for quality and diversity of the items we display and the hands on experiences we offer. 

Our first ever Performing Arts Concert was a wonderful presentation of Japanese music. The performers were Anne Norman a virtuoso performer of shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and a variety of other flutes.
The soothing, sensuous, sometimes confronting sounds of the shakuhachi were followed by the mesmerising primal rhythms of wadaiko or Japanese festival drums with Toshi Sakamoto and his team. Minako Okamato gave a brilliant display on the solo marimba with 3 percussionists.

The Miyama McQueen-Tokita of the Sawai International Koto School (based at Monash University) played the enchanting koto. The Koto is one of the most popular Japanese instruments.

We were privileged to hear Higashi Junior High School Taiko Drum Group are from our Sister City of Susono. They are accompanied by the legendary Taiko player Mr Hiromasa Akiyama and Ms Yukari Hirashina a member of his Taiko group. Mr Akiyama’s Taiko Group had just won 1st prize in the 9th All Japan Taiko Contest.

The final part of the concert was the Combined Schools Band with students from Karingal Park Secondary College, Mt. Erin Secondary College and Frankston High School and conducted by Mr. Alan Tacon. The band tonight performed Canto, a piece based on the Japanese traditional song Sakura and Waltzing Matilda, both of which Alan conducted on that first trip to Susono in 1982.

FSFA thanks our dear friend Peter Sharp for his hard work in putting the concert together and helping us in our community work.

Our Student Exchange Program has been very active with one incoming student and four outgoing students. Hiroko Miyazaki went home in March this year after 11 months with us. Thank you to the Lee Family and Paine family for hosting Hiroko. Hiroko’s artistic talents were put to good use at the Japanese Fair painting several Japanese Characters. Jennifer Moon and Christy Ramadge spent 6 and 9 months respectively in Susono in 2002. Both girls impressed us with the recount of their experiences in Susono. This year we are fortunate to two more students in Susono with Hailey Paine and Natasha Nicol spending 10 months this year. All four students have greatly improved their Japanese language skills and have been great ambassadors for Frankston.  The members of our sister organisation, SOFA, have done a terrific job in looking after our students.    

We hosted 17 Junior High School students from Susono in August last year. Well done to Judy Thomas and Steve Walker for their hard work in finding host families not only for the 17 students but also for the four chaperones travelling with them. Various activities were organised for the week of their visit including dinner at the Grand Hotel and a trip to French Island where they will be invited to plant a tree.

Two short term stay students Mariko Kuda and Akane Watanabe are with us currently for 2 weeks. Thank you to the Stevens and Sinclair families for hosting the girls.

Being an approved Student Exchange organisation is becoming more challenging as the Victorian Education Department imposes very strict controls and procedures in its registration process. 

The Student Exchange Program of the Frankston Susono Friendship Association is very fortunate to have the support of Environmental Control Services. The Company Director Bill Oldjohn is a member of our executive. His company has very kindly provided funds for a student scholarship. Thank you to Bill and your company for your support.

FSFA has an excellent track record in the Australian Sister City Association’s Conference annual awards. The last conference in Bendigo was no exception. We won both awards for the categories we entered.  As well as the award for Overall Programme, we won the prize for Best Cultural Exchange.  This was awarded for the Association’s visit last year by 10 music students to Susono’s Australian Fair and the celebrations for the 30th birthday of Susono as a city. Thank you to Steve Walker for putting the submission together.

We are pleased to be able to assist SOFA with the recruitment of Assistant Language Teachers to work in Junior High Schools in Susono. We have Birra Li Ward and Meredith Harris currently in Susono. Elizabeth Cvetkovski and Roger Menichelli have just been appointed and will commence in January 2004. Meredith and her husband Phil have been sending us weekly emails about their experiences in Susono. We all await their incisive and frank stories and have given us a view of Japan we have never seen before. Bravo to the Harris’s.

FSFA has been receiving regular reports from Mr Phil Harris (husband of Meredith Harris) about his project to construct an Australian style Garden at Higashi Junior High School in Susono. With the support of the School, Phil Harris has designed the Garden and is in the progress of putting it together using local materials. FSFA considers the Garden as an opportunity for our Association to permanently display something of Australia in the community of Susono. Higashi Junior High School is very good location for the garden as it is well remembered by FSFA during our visit for the Australian Fair in 2001 and some its students coming to visit Frankston for the Japanese Fair in 2002. FSFA is very pleased to be assisting Phil with the purchase of materials for the Garden. Frankston High School also is making a financial contribution. The Frankston High School delegation will also be bringing with them items for the Garden during their visit to Susono in September 2003.

We in Frankston view the Japanese garden at Frankston High School as a little bit of Susono in Frankston. We are sure that the people of Susono will view the Australian Garden as a little bit of Frankston in Susono.

Speaking of Frankston High School we are indebted to Frankston High School for their support of our work particularly the Student Exchange Program. Marion Heale, Simon Beaumont, Bob Cooper and the fantastic Luke Kerr are special people who help us with our work.

In recent times we have consciously broadened our role to that of a lead agent for Japan culture and lifestyle on the Mornington Peninsula. Over the last 2 years we have also been actively developing relationships with the Japanese Community in Melbourne and have been active participants in the past two Japanese Festivals put on the by the Japan Club of Victoria. We count the staff on the Japanese language newspapers in Victoria as good friends. We enjoy a very good relationship with the staff of the Japanese Consulate, JETRO, MTSC and a number of other Japanese businesses in Melbourne. Margaret and I were very pleased to be invited to the home of the Japanese Consul to celebrate the Japanese Emperor’s birthday along with about 200 others.

Earlier this year FSFA has been contacted by Sue Burnham who is a well-known author of Japanese Language textbooks that are used in many schools in Australia. She is also a long time friend of the Association. Sue visited Susono in 1983 with a group of Japanese language students from Toorak College. Several of the students that she taught took the relationship further and spent time in Susono as exchange students. Sue and her partner are writing a new Japanese language textbook with a theme of student life in Japan. They wanted to centre the book around student life in Susono. They would take photographs for their books and talk to students about their interests.

We enlisted the assistance of SOFA to assist Sue and partner with her task. We saw this as an excellent way of promoting Susono and our sister city relationship in Australia. The trip was very successful and Sue attended one of our meetings to share her experiences of the trip with us.

Our new Executive members of being making their mark in the past year. Michael has taken on the collation of policies and procedures. We now have a comprehensive manual to operate with.

Olivia La Combre has been active with our younger members. Olivia is a survivor on our trip to Japan in 2001. She has aspirations to go back to Japan on a young adult exchange. Thanks Olivia.

Peter Sharp recently joined us and we welcome his ongoing involvement. Thanks Peter.

Bill Oldjohn as previously mentioned is a great supporter of our Student Exchange Program. Thank you Bill.

Thank you to Margaret, Bev Hannan. Bev Harris, Des Dean, Phil Barber for your work this year. A great effort. To Chris Hodgins, thank you for your assistance as the Frankston Council Liaison Officer. To Cathy Wilson and the staff at Frankston Council thank you for your continued support.

We all look forward to the next 12 months with an Australian Fair in Susono this November being one of the highlights.


Thank you for your attendance tonight and your support of the Frankston Susono Friendship Association.