Monday 3 August 2020

A Message from Chairperson Julie D'Arcy

The following article was published in our July Bulletin and sent via our distribution list:

The year is half over already. Usually at this time of the year the Frankston Susono Friendship Association Executive Committee are very busy planning the Japanese Speech Contest which is usually held in early September, and the Japanese Festival which was scheduled for late November this year.

Unfortunately, both of these events have been postponed due to COVID-19. Any future plans for delegations between the sister cities have also been put on hold until it is safe to travel again.

Fortunately, we have many Japanese memories to look back on. Since 1982 (when Frankston formed a Sister City relationship with Susono in Japan), there have been many wonderful events organized by FSFA to promote Japanese culture. Over the years many people have come together, sharing cultures and making life-long friendships. There have been numerous exchange student programs between the two cities, both short and long term. The experience gained by living in another country is priceless.

As a former exchange student to Susono myself, way back in 1983, I have many wonderful memories. Living with my Japanese families and attending Susono High School taught me to be resilient and have an appreciation of cultural diversity.

Exchange sisters Julie and Eiko Sugiyama in 1983

I am still very close to my Japanese family and friends in Susono, and have visited them often over the years and have welcomed them into my home here in Frankston.

In these challenging times with COVID-19, we may not be able to visit Japan but we are fortunate to be able to communicate with our Japanese friends through today’s technology. Back in 1983 when I lived in Susono, we had to wait 10 days for a letter to arrive from Oz, and phone calls were very rare due to the huge expense.

Julie and Eiko catching up in Melbourne (2018)

Whilst we ride the COVID-19 storm, I urge you all to make contact with your Japanese friends and check-in on them. Don’t wait for restaurants to open again but instead, get out the Japanese cookbooks or have some fun by making some sushi at home. Get the kids involved with making origami and make some paper cranes, or if you are wanting a real challenge, jump on-line and learn some Japanese. Who knows, you maybe fluent in Japanese by the time we can travel to Japan again!

Julie with Andrew Grigor (fellow exchange student to Susono in 1983) and Eiko at Andrew's Yard 58 restaurant in Queenscliff, Victoria.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well and be happy!

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