At last week’s meeting our guest speakers were our  club’s two exchange students—incoming student from Japan, Ayumi Kado and outgoing student to Japan, Shannon Evans. On the eve of her return home, Ayumi shared some of her experiences of being in Australia—some amusing and some quite challenging. Ayumi said she arrived in TasmanIa on 1st August 2018 feeling rather scared, being 6,800 km from home and being faced with a place of considerably smaller population than she experiences at home. She said that the small population led her to think that Tasmanians lived in the jungle amid wild animals. Upon arriving in Launceston she was relieved to see build
ings and evidence of urban life. First impressions of Tasmania were that it was cold but with clear skies—no pollution! Aumi said she did feel lonely—she did not find any other Japanese people here and no one to talk to in her own language. She had learned some English prior to coming to Australia, but after he arrived she realized how limited it was. She said her common response was “Yes!” when spoken to, but she frequently didn’t understand what was being said.  Not only was understanding English was difficult but Aussie expressions such as “Like a cuppa?”added to the confusion. Aumi said she was warmly welcomed by her first host family—Pfeffers and began to feel less lonely. She was also welcomed at her school—St Patrick’s College. Later she moved on to two other host families. She went of two Rotary Exchange Student camps. Again she felt her lack of English keenly. Most of the exchange students were European and spoke very good English and some of them were also fluent in European languages other than their own. But no one else could speak Japanese. In February this year Ayumi joined the drama club at school. This proved to be a particular challenge. Learning lines in English and speaking in a drama context was quite a struggle at first. Her fellow students helped her a great deal and she soon grew in confidence. In April this year Ayumi went on an exchange student safari, during which she celebrated her 18th birthday. Places she visited included Adelaide, Coober Pedy, Ayer’s Rock, Cairns, where she found many Japanese people, and Sydney. In May, Ayumi took part in the St Patrick’s College Annual Ball. Reflecting on the total experience of coming to Australia, Ayumi said she had found it quite tough to go to a different country, but felt she had grown up as a person, her English had improved considerably and she didn’t want to leave and go home. She learned to do things in the home which she hadn’t done in japan—like making her bed and operating a washing machine. She pledged to be more helpful at home when she returned! Ayumi concluded by saying that she now regards Tasmania as her ’other home’ and hopes to return some day. ************** Our outgoing student, Shannon Evans visited Japan from January to October 2018 going to the city of Imabari Ahime on Shikoku Island. Her first host family was the Kado family—Ayumi’s home. The city centre is home to a spectacular castle, which is now a museum. The city’s symbols are towels and boats. Towels  and boats are manufactured there. Is has a rich maritime history—Ayumi’s father is a ship’s captain. Shannon said she was very conscious of looking different from the rest of the people and she attracted many stares. She was also taller than most of the Japanese. She attended years 10 and 11 at school and found Japanese schools very different from Australian ones. School went from 8.15am to 3.30pm with study time after that. School students were responsible for cleaning the school—she landed the job of cleaning the toilets! School rules we quite strict—no water or phones allowed in class and students were not allowed to speak or ask questions. Squat toilets took quite a bit of getting used to. The school did provide athletic competitions with much chanting and team marching, but not many of what Shannon would regard of fun activities. Shannon said the school provided an extensive range of club activities including tea-making and art. Like Ayumi, Shannon said the language barrier made it difficult to make friends. Shannon had four host families—each of them different.  Shannon enjoyed experiences such as cherry blossoms in spring, picking strawberries, making sweets, going to the beach and dressing up in traditional Japanese dress and make-up. Shannon was eventually able to make presentations to Rotary clubs in Japan in the Japanese language.
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