Exchange program promotes lifelong friendships

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Sally Byun (left) and Japanese student Minori at Caroline Chisholm Catholic School in Glenmore Park. Photo: Melinda Jane

Students at local Catholic girls school, Caroline Chisholm, have made friends and exchanged unforgettable memories with girls that live almost 8,000 kilometres away.

16 Japanese students from Tokyo Junshin Girls High School have attended the Glenmore Park-based school for the last two weeks, staying with local families as part of an exchange relationship between the schools.

Caroline Chisholm’s Japanese teacher, Leanne Smith, said a strong relationship between the two schools has enabled visits back and forth since 2011.

“Tokyo Junshin has many parallels with our school – it’s a Catholic girls school, west of Tokyo and near the mountains,” she told the Weekender.

“The exchange creates meaningful lifelong relationships allowing for continued friendship, language, knowledge and skills exchange between our two countries.”

Whilst in town, students visited Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Muru Mittigar on excursions, and even headed next door to Glenmore Park Pre-school and sang songs to children.

Japanese students such as 15-year-old Minori undertook specialised English lessons in the morning, before integrating with the rest of the school in the afternoon.

“Freedom – the Australian lifestyle is very free,” Minori said about her understanding of Australian life.

“For example, morning tea. We don’t have morning tea.”

Minori made the most of her new pre-lunch snack break, before heading back to Japan, where her first food break in the school day is at 12.45pm.

For 14-year-old student Miri, her trip to Australia made her realise she doesn’t like the taste of licorice, but got a kick out of trying to show Australians traditional sweet and sour Japanese salt plums.

“I gave my host family a Japanese plum and everyone hated it. They spat it out,” she laughed.

Year 10 Caroline Chisholm student Sally Byun has enjoyed playing host to the Japanese students and sharing each other’s cultures.

“It’s quite fun to see how other students from another country’s lifestyle is, what they like and what’s in their pop culture,” she said.

“They’re our age too so we can connect. There’s differences and similarities and it’s fun to compare them.”

The exchange was enabled by the Australian Institute of International Understanding, who are currently celebrating their 30th year operating study tours and exchanges between Australia and Japan.

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