Article by David and Anita Cross
It’s been 18 months since our Frankston delegation visited Susono and participated in the Australia Fair at the Susono Citizen Cultural Centre. Eighteen months on and the world has changed with the onset of COVID-19, effectively isolating communities both locally and internationally. However, that doesn’t mean the world stops, what with the means of communications available today. For us, currently, we are teeing up a Skype call with our host family Sayaka and Brian so we can catch up with the latest news from Susono first hand, and to see how our Japanese friends are weathering these difficult times.
In September and October of 2018 Anita and I travelled to Japan for our first visit. After just a couple of days in Japan, we decided that it wouldn’t be our last trip there. The highlight of our time was with our Susono host family (including their two young children), experiencing first-hand the culture and the way of Japanese life from an outsider’s point of view. To us, to be able to live in a Japanese home was an experience not to be missed – while we enjoyed our travels elsewhere across the country staying in hotels, the time with our host family was by far the most enjoyable part of our trip.
We have immersed ourselves in the Frankston Susono Friendship Association and look forward to contributing to the sister cities relationship. One of the enjoyable tasks is attending our monthly committee meetings (if work doesn’t get in the way) to discuss and plan future events, such as Japanese Festivals in Frankston, or contributing to festivals in other parts of Melbourne. There is always something of interest, whether it be our recent Proclamation Day celebrations in the beautiful Japanese garden at Frankston High School, or planning for our Susono delegation to visit Australia this November.
A lasting benefit to our visit was the building of an on-going relationship with our host family – we don’t talk regularly, but when we do, it’s great to spend an hour catching up on what’s happening in our respective lives in the two hemispheres. We look forward to catching up with them at some stage in the future when they hopefully have the opportunity to visit Australia. Similarly, we’re eagerly anticipating our next trip to Japan as part of the Frankston Susono Friendship Association delegation. But before then, we’re looking forward to hosting some members of the Susono Overseas Friendship Association when their delegation visits Frankston.
|Anita and David with their host Sayaka outside Susono City Hall|