For a month-long period over the December holidays, we embarked on a trip to Japan (as 2018 Japanese Bursary Awardees), staying in the town of Fujinomiya (at the base of Mt Fuji), and attending lessons at CHAC's sister school, Seiryo College. The experience was both an invaluable learning opportunity (perhaps to discover that our knowledge of the Japanese language could always be improved upon!), and an unforgettable experience.
The first week was quite the learning curve, featuring entire chalkboards of kanji (traditional Japanese characters), the realisation that the upstairs vending machines stocked chocolate waffles, and the fact that Japanese students were some of the most committed people we had ever seen. Our favourite lesson turned out to be PE–a surprising fact given neither of us take the subject in Australia. These lessons were particularly dear to us due to the central focus being an aerobic dance routine to ‘Hey Mickey’, during which we discovered why neither of us had ever been inclined towards dancing! In addition, the school days lasted far longer than in Australia–in some cases, finishing at 7pm at the completion of after-school activities such as Calligraphy Club, Art Club, Gymnastic Club, and a host of other extra-curriculars. However, we both agree that the friends we made in Japan were incredible people–with unwavering kindness, patience, and determination.
Whether it was our time in the classroom, a shopping trip, or even an incredibly interesting karaoke session after school, our Seiryo classmates made us feel welcome; offering their friendship and help when it was needed. Our host families; however, were the highlight of our trip, and I know that I definitely wouldn't hesitate in saying that I felt right at home. We accompanied our host families on trips on the weekend, including an early emergency drill (very chilly!), visits to the Mt Fuji Museum, and a weekend trip to Kyoto to sightsee, as well as a trip to the local amusement park, FujiQ. Our host families went above and beyond for the duration of our stay, and without their support, our trip definitely wouldn't have been as memorable. All in all, the experience was amazing; one that opened both our eyes to Japan's culture and to people's kindness.
We cannot thank CHAC and the work of Mrs. Nakamura enough for providing us with this experience, and we certainly hope to revisit our friends in Japan in the near future!
Sierra Mossman and Katie Munro