After weeks of preparation Bridge Club Australia had 4 bags full of stationary and supplies to take to Bangkok to present to Bridge Club Thailand to help out with their Library Project. Bridge Club Thailand have created a library at Nonthamhumi House which is a house for disabled and orphaned children. The members of Bridge Club Thailand raised over $5000 in one month and assisted with the actual hands-on building of the library.
All of the past Australian JA's and PA's were asked to donate stationary for this project. Erin Maitland (the Australian 2007 PA and Bridge Club President) whilst on way to Cambodia on vacation met with Prasert Suruttanamethakul (the 2007 Thai PA) and a host of excited past JA's in Bangkok, to deliver the stationary at a donation ceremony. Bridge Club Thailand have indicated that the response from Bridge Club Australia was fantastic and half of the stationary donated is to be used for their next project which is to build a library at Wat Prabatnamphu House (AIDS infected children).
It is fantastic that Bridge Club Australia (made up of past participants of the APCC) is able to assist another Bridge Club in this manner. It is hoped that this will be the first of many such projects that Bridge Club Australia can participate in, assisting the work being undertaken in other countries by their Bridge Clubs to better the lives of children and spread the notion of ‘We are the Bridge’.
Not long after the 2007 JA’s returned from their trip to Japan, they met up at Gordon’s house for a reunion lunch. It was great to see everyone and the friendships made on this year’s trip are going to be ones that carry on for years to come.
Again in December the group met at Wattle Park in Burwood to have a Christmas Party. After sharing our lunch as a group we played some cricket and other games around the park. Another great event, with fun had by everyone.
The 19th APCC was held in Fukuoka in July 2007. The chaperone Jo McCracken and Assistant Chaperone Janet Whittle accompanied the eight selected children: Gordon Bedlow, Ryan Joyce, Alexander Ritter, Mathew Withers, Rebecca Barry, Cassandra Hook, Hayley Roberts and Gabriella Vallence. This year, a Peace Ambassador, Erin Maitland, also attended the Convention.
The Exchange Camp was held at the start of the project for four days at Marine Camp where the children had the opportunity to mix with nearly 350 children from all around the Asia Pacific region. This year, the children were involved in a number of activities on site including ikebana, origami, dressing in yukata and ball games. The sports day was held again this year and provided the children with the opportunity to have fun and join together in non-competitive fun activities.
Erin participated in the Peace Ambassadors program during the Exchange Camp which involved workshops and discussions relating to the future of Bridge Club and possible activities/opportunities that members could be involved in. The Peace Ambassadors also assisted with the Exchange Camp, assisting with organisation and activities.
Our delegation was again involved in the School Visit program and they were fortunate to be hosted by Yokote Elementary School again this year. The children attended for four days and the school had prepared many exciting activities for the group, including a day trip to Fukuoka organised by the students themselves
During the home stay time, the JAs enjoyed a range of activities including visits to the baseball, bowling, visiting Nagasaki, hot springs and other tourist spots. The group also participated in the APCC festival in central Fukuoka where the group performed their presentation as well as enjoyed participating in the grand finale and singing of the festival song ‘We are the Bridge’.
In late March, the Australia Japan Society of Victoria welcomed 18 participants to Melbourne as part of the Asian Pacific Children’s Convention Mission Project (a visit connected with the Invitation Project where Australian children visit Fukuoka each July).
The aim of the visit was to allow children from Fukuoka to be given an opportunity to go overseas and deepen their cultural understanding through participating in a program of home stay, school visits and cultural activities with local children. I know that the visit was a complete success with many opportunities to participate in family life and meet new friends.
The group was made up of 15 young people (aged 10 to 17) and 3 leaders. Whilst the leaders stayed in a city hotel, all the young people were hosted by AJS members, past participants of the APCC or school families connected with AJS members. Whilst the visit short (four nights in home stay), the participants managed to fit in many varied activities, including school visits, visits to Healesville Sanctuary and the Victoria Markets, beach trips, shopping, bush picnics, sporting events and a visit to the Japan Consulate. Some of the participants were also filmed by an NHK film crew who were filming a program to be shown on Japanese television encouraging children to study English and showing the opportunities to share the newly learned language.
A farewell party was held on the last evening of the visit and the host families were entertained by the group who sang traditional Japanese songs as well as more recent pop songs and showed us a traditional dance. At the end of the evening, the participants left the host families with tears both from the visitors and families!
The Junior Ambassador (JA) selection process started late last year in the hope to find eight eager eleven year olds to represent Australia at the 2007 APCC. After submitting applications through their school Japanese teachers, a fun day was organised to observe how the children interacted with similar aged peers. After close observation twenty children were selected and later invited to be interviewed. After the interview between the child and representatives from both the APCC liaison office in Australia (The Australia Japan Society of Victoria) and the Bridge Club, an announcement was made as to who was selected to attend the 2007 APCC.
The lucky 8 children have been selected and now the preparation begins.
Three meetings are planned to be held over the next six months. Firstly there will be an information session to allow both the JA’s and their parents to learn more about the APCC and the Bridge Club. The second meeting will be a sleepover meeting where the children will spend the night together and bond as a group, while learning more about their responsibilities as a JA and what to expect on their visit to Japan. During this meeting there will also be time to put together a performance to do at the Bridge Club Festival while in Japan. The third and final meeting will be held to collect any final information, practice the prepared performance and swap collected souvenirs so each child had a box full of things to give out to their new friends at the convention.
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