Thursday 16 August 2018

Celebrating 36 years of our Sister City relationship!

How we do it and why it works.

by Peter Patterson, FSFA Chairperson

In late September this year, 25 members of the local community will represent Frankston during a visit to our sister city of Susono, in Japan. The delegation of citizens will be led by Mayor Colin Hampton and his wife Nancye. The delegation will also include members of the Frankston Susono Friendship Association, and a 7 piece band from Frankston High School. The visit will commence on 27 September and will culminate in the Australian Fair on Sunday 30 September. The delegation will showcase Frankston with an innovative visual display using Virtual Reality technology and aerial photography. Over 1,500 people from the Susono Community are expected to attend the Fair that will be held in the local cultural centre. Thank you to all those who have put their hand up to be a member of our delegation.

This will be the eighth delegation visit to Susono since 2000. During this time nearly 100 local student musicians have been given a life changing opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture and perform on an international stage. Over 50 locals have also had the opportunity to be part of the sister city experience.

2016 Susono Delegation visiting Olivers Hill, Frankston

The delegation visits fulfill the role of the Frankston Susono Friendship Association to:

  • Enable people in the Frankston region to experience another culture; 
  • Promote and celebrate Japanese culture through performances, displays and exhibitions;
  • Create opportunities to promote Frankston and give our citizens life changing experiences;
  • Develop local students through cultural exchanges and support of Japanese learning programs in local schools;
  • Develop and foster relationships with Japanese related organisations and businesses;
  • Promote travel to and from Japan;
  • Maintain a deep and sustainable relationship with Susono.

Wadaiko Rindo Taiko Drumming Group performing at our 2018 Japanese Festival

The Frankston Susono sister city relationship is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year. The relationship is as strong as ever because we:

  • Have long-serving volunteers who are Passionate and Committed;
  • Want to do it rather than have to - it is externally managed rather than within Council;
  • Have a connection to and/or an understanding of Japan;
  • Think outside the boundaries both physically and mentally;
  • Operate on the “Onion” principle i.e. Small group to manage day to day and helpers when needed;
  • Are a Centre of Excellence for “Japanese matters” in the region;
  • Have a strong relationship with local schools – more than 26 schools in the greater Frankston Region are teaching Japanese.

2018 Japanese Festival held at Frankston High School in May

To maintain the intensity and interest over the long haul, you need to:

  • Have events and activities that motivate and encourage our volunteers;
  • Be visible and engaging e.g. active social media presence;
  • Run regular community awareness activities e.g. Cultural Fair held in one city - each sends a delegation to the host city;
  • Have sustained relationships in the broader community;
  • Have regular contact with our sister city;
  • Find inventive ways of promoting the sister city relationship;
  • Ensure that both cities jointly acknowledge and Celebrate our Successes;
  • Always look to the future, but not forget the past.

Japanese Friendship Garden located at Frankston High School

Our approach and efforts have ensured that over the 36 years we have delivered a range of successful programs and activities. These have been recognized nationally by Sister Cities Australia. Our achievements include:

  • Maintaining the internationally recognised Frankston Susono Japanese Garden at Frankston High School – we now have Japanese style gardens in a number of local primary and secondary schools;
  • Recruiting for the Susono Community Teaching Position;
  • Building sound relationships with Japanese organisations – e.g. Consul General, Japanese businesses, local Japanese community;
  • Managing a Student Exchange Program – 75 students on long term exchange and over 500 short term stays;
  • Giving the youth of Frankston life changing experiences – e.g. band performance at World Expo 2005;
  • Facilitating creation of Japanese Language Book about school life in Susono – used in schools all over Australia;
  • Achieving international recognition for “building bridges” in the community at the Yazaki Global Forum 2006;
  • Winning a number of Awards from the Sister Cities Australia for our activities:

o   2007 Best Overall Sister City Program in Australia.
o   2017 Community Involvement

2017 SCA Community Involvement Award - Mayor Colin Hampton, Simon Hast (FSFA Vice Chairperson), Christina Despoteri (SCA Executive), Julie D'Arcy (FSFA Executive), Peter Patterson (FSFA Chairperson) and Margaret Patterson (FSFA Executive).

Our success is also dependent on the Frankston Council’s:

  • Unwavering support for the sister city relationship throughout the past 36 years
  • Providing administrative support and an annual operational grant
  • Commitment to have Mayor/Councillors lead delegations

Susono Schools Tour Group and Derinya Primary School's "Team Japan" visiting Mayor Colin Hampton in the Frankston City Council Chambers in August 2018

The engine is still full of steam with the delegation visit and annual Japanese Speech Contest in early September to keep up the interest. We also have a range of other plans that we will share as they are developed and initiated.

Taisho Goto Music Group from Mishima City at Derinya Primary School in August 2018