Article submitted by Mrs. Therese Sakamoto, Japanese Teacher Derinya Primary School
Every August we look forward to welcoming the student delegation from our sister city Susono. Ten students from schools all over Susono are selected to represent their city for the eight day trip and it is an opportunity for new friendships to be established between the citizens of Susono and Frankston. After the students are matched with host families, communication commences between the families in Susono and Frankston. Exchanging emails and video chats prior to departure from Susono lessens the nerves for everyone with introductions already complete.
|Smiles all round!|
Members of FSFA Executive Committee joined host families and staff of Derinya Primary School to welcome the delegation on Wednesday 7th August. After formalities, everyone shared an Aussie afternoon tea before heading off to commence the homestays.
|'Soran' festival dance performed at the whole school assembly|
For the next week, the students immersed themselves in school life at Derinya through participation in Year 5 and 6 classes. With the Year 6 Market Day conveniently scheduled during the delegation’s visit, our Susono friends busily prepared 300 ‘yoyo balloons’ to sell alongside their Derinya buddies. These festival toys from Japan proved to be extremely popular on Market Day and many Derinya students could be seen happily bouncing their Japanese yoyos in the playground for days afterwards! The Susono students enjoyed boomerang art, bush dancing and Aussie sport (AFL and cricket) in addition to regular lessons. They also treated us to the fabulous upbeat festival dance, ‘soran’ at our whole school assembly and the farewell party.
|Yo-Yo balloons for sale at Market Day|
|Rajio taiso exercises during the Year 7 Japanese class at Frankston High|
On Tuesday 13th August, the delegation attended the official opening of the Susono Friendship Garden in Susono Way as representatives of Susono and were introduced to the Mayor of Frankston and other important guests. One of the students, Tenka, whose father works at Yazaki World Headquarters in Susono was invited to assist in the unveiling of the official plaque, with Jarvis, one of the Derinya students. The group also enjoyed a visit to Frankston High School and participation in a Year 7 Japanese lesson and concluded the day with tree-surfing and tube sliding at Arthur’s Seat.
|Harnessing up for tree-surfing at the Enchanted Adventure Garden|
Over the course of the week, the ten young students from Susono had forged new friendships and felt like part of an Australian family. Ten Frankston families had shared their homes and daily lives with the Susono students. They had experienced a typical week and weekend together. In eight short days, they had all settled into life together and even those with limited confidence had bonded beautifully and learnt to joke around together.
|Friends now and into the future!|
Suddenly, it was time to say goodbye. Strangers had become closer than friends. They had become family. There was much joy for all the memories they shared and much sadness that it had come to an end. At the Farewell Party on the final evening and Departure Day the next morning, everyone’s hearts were filled with a mixture of joy and sadness. With many tears, hugs and promises to keep in touch and meet again, our Susono delegation and their Frankston families and friends parted.
|Sad farewells on the final day|