Australia-Japan Foundation

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"What I would like to do in Australia" - Minami Sanriku School children's essays

These are some of the essays submitted by Minami Sanriku schoolchildren participating in an exchange visit to the Gold Coast from 24 March to 1 April.

I am looking forward to visiting a zoo

[13-year-old girl]

There are three main reasons I would like to participate in the Australia Trip. The first reason is the people-to-people exchange. I am a part of a volunteer group in Minami Sanriku called "MVC Buranko", and I take part in the group's volunteer activities as a junior leader. With this group I visited Honbetsu, Hokkaido as a part of my training. The memories I have of the junior leaders of Honbetsu and being able to meet and interact with people there meant so much to me and it was a great experience. The friendship I was able to establish with the Honbetsu junior leaders and the connection with the people I met during this trip is continuing. I hope that I will be able to establish this kind of friendship and relationship through my visit to Australia.

I believe that for this exchange to happen, what I need is to be able to talk and communicate with people I meet in Australia. I will not be able to do this without speaking English. So, here is my second reason. I am not very good at English. I can listen and understand the meaning more or less, but it is difficult to express myself in English. I tend to end up not knowing what to say. I am not good at writing English either. This is why I would like to go to Australia. I would like to improve my English skills by communicating with Australian people and hopefully this will result in a successful exchange.

Finally, the third reason is because I would like to make lots of good memories. I really look forward to meeting new friends, but I am also looking forward to the excursions. I have liked animals since I was little, and because there are many exotic animals in Australia, I have always wanted to visit the country. So I am looking forward to visiting a zoo. I would like to experience lots of things, and make lots of memories during my visit.

I would like to discover a new "me" on this trip

[13-year-old girl]

What we feel as "normal" and "usual" in our everyday lives, may not be "normal". I realised this, and felt the urge to visit Australia. When I am in a different place or a different country, I think my understanding of what is "normal" will change. If we keep on looking for something "normal" in our town of Minami Sanriku, which was affected by the disaster, I don't think we will be able to rebuild and develop our town. I believe incorporating something new and unexpected and introducing cultures from other regions may help revitalise the town and make it into something brand new. We are the generation that will be moving these recovery efforts forward. That is why I want to learn at first hand aboutforeign lifestyle, cityscape and culture. I think we will notice many surprising differences in food, culture and lifestyle in Australia. I hope that through this trip we are able to learn things and experience things we had never imagined before. Also I am looking forward to communicating with the local people. I think that if my lifestyle changes, the way I think will also change. It will be a good experience for me to meet the local people, hear their views and opinions. I would like to discover a new "me" by listening to many opinions and seeing things from new perspectives. I am not particularly good at English, and I have never been abroad, but I would like to know more about Australia in order to discover a new "me" and contribute to further development of Minami Sanriku, which went through the disaster. In the end, there may be unexpected similarities between my town and Australia.

Before, I often made assumptions based on prejudice. But through this opportunity, I would like to become more open-minded and look at things from various viewpoints. Australia is a country surrounded by ocean, so I would like to visit the scenic places with mountains and ocean. I am a little nervous, as I have never visited this country, but I feel more excited and curious than worried. I would like to discover many differences between Japan and Australia and differences between Minami Sanriku and Australia, and see how things change or stay the same in myself. This will also change some aspects of my everyday life. I would like to discover a new "me" in this trip.

I have never touched a koala before. I would like to touch koalas...

[13-year-old boy]

After the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, we received lots of support and supplies from people in Japan, and also from around the world. It made me very happy. So now I would like to go to Australia and through English lessons and excursion activities I hope to be able to interact with the people there.

There are three things I would like to experience in Australia. The first is to learn English. This is my first time going to Australia, and I cannot speak English very well. So I would like to take this opportunity to work hard on my English even for a short period of time.

The second thing I would like to do is to participate in extracurricular activities. The reason for this is because, when I think about Australia, koalas are the first thing that comes to my mind. I have never touched a koala before. I would like to touch koalas and other animals.

The third reason is to deepen exchanges with Australia. I would like to do this by taking English lessons and trying to communicate with the people there. If I could take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to Australia, it would be an invaluable experience for my future. I also hope that it will help me think of my future dream as I do not know what I want to do yet.

I would like to give back in some way to the people who supported us...

[13-year-old boy]

I received much support and many encouraging messages from people around the world following the March 11 disaster. There were many messages written in English. However, I was unfortunately not able to understand some of them as I could not read several words. I strongly feel that I want to study English harder.

The first thing I want to do if I am able to go to Australia is to make new friends. For this, I will try my best to actively talk to everyone and study hard to improve my English skills. I hope I can write to friends I meet there even after I come home.

Next, I would like to experience the great nature and culture of Australia. I enjoy observing stars so I hope to see the Southern Cross, which cannot be seen in the northern hemisphere. I also like animals so I would like to see exotic animals such as kangaroos and koalas. I hope to get to know my host family well and learn about Australian food culture and customs.

Finally, I would like to take part in volunteer work to give back in some way to the people who supported us after the disaster. I know that there is little that I can do, but I would like to take part in cleaning and moving heavy things where possible. I hope that through this trip, I will be able to learn things for my future career. My dream is to work in a position that coordinates overseas exchanges, and hopefully I can serve as a bridge that connects Minami Sanriku and Australia. If I am able to participate in this Australia trip, it will be my first step toward my dream and I will work hard in my English lessons to make it come true.

We would like to go and help with volunteer work... so that we can reciprocate the kindness to Australians

[13-year-old girl]

I would like to go to Australia for the following reasons. The first reason I applied for this trip was because I was able to interact with some Australians at the "Fukko-ichi" (recovery market). Our Togura T-shirt booth was next to the Australian booth. They gave us a kind of Australian cake called "Lamingtons". They were very tasty. It was also fun singing a song with an Australian singer on stage.

The first thing I would like to experience in Australia is English lessons. I am not very good at English so I hope the lessons will help me improve my English skills. I would also like to experience home-stay to learn more about Australian culture. I am especially interested in school life. I learned that Australian schools are different from Japanese schools, so I look forward to actually experiencing the different culture. I also learned that many kids learn Japanese in primary school so I am hoping that I will be able to talk about that with students I meet at my host school. I would like to talk about my country and deepen exchanges. I would also like to visit a world heritage site in Australia. By learning about Australian culture and its nature, I hope to learn a lot about Australia.

Finally I would like to participate in volunteer work. We received lots and lots of support from Australia after this disaster. We would like to go and help with volunteer work and help those who are in trouble so that we can reciprocate the kindness to Australians. I hope I will be able to experience many things in Australia and make the most of this opportunity.

I hope... we can play a role in deepening the connection between Japan and Australia

[13-year-old girl]

At the "Fukko-ichi" (recovery market), we were placed next to the Australian booth, and although it was a short period of time, we enjoyed English conversation using the words we knew. We also enjoyed wearing the same T-shirts and singing together. This is when I started to become interested in Australia.

I have always wanted to work abroad. So when I found out about this opportunity, I felt that I would like to learn more about Australian culture while improving my English skills as much as possible for future studies.

In the March 11 disaster, my house was washed away with nothing remaining, and my grandfather passed away. But soon after the earthquake and tsunami, I found out that an Australian search team came to Japan, and that Prime Minister Gillard came to Japan and Minami Sanriku as the world's first leader. I was touched by this news and I started to feel a strong desire to visit Australia. I would like to see world heritage sites in Australia, unique animals like echidnas and wombats, and watch and play sports that are popular in Australia. I also learned the connections that Japan and Australia share, such as Japanese being learned in Australian primary schools, wheat and many other farm products in our everyday life coming from Australia, and that approximately 30 per cent of electricity we use in Japan comes from Australian energy resources.

I hope that through this trip we can play a role in deepening the connection between Japan and Australia. I would also like to make the most of my experience in Australia for the recovery of Minami Sanriku. For example, I would like to teach sports that I learn in Australia to Japanese primary school students, and I wish to play with Australian primary students using Otedama (beanbags), Japanese playing cards, Kendama (bilboquet) and other Japanese toys so that they will be interested in Japan.