Last year Brenton Shalders and Sarah Wynen then in Year 11 won the City of Ballarat Japanese Speech Contest The prize included a trip to Japan Trip
This week they attended the City of Ballarat Council Meeting at the Ballarat Town Hall to thank the Mayor and council members for their support. Brenton and Sarah presented photos and shared their highly educational experience in our sister city, Inagawa Cho, Hyogo in Japan.
Concurrently we hosted the two English speaking contest winners, Momoka and Ryo, from Inagawa Cho, Hyogo. They were most polite students and showed a strong interest in how we teach their mother language to Australian students.
Now 2013 speech contest is finished and the Japanese Department is working on encouraging the current Year 10 students for their chance to compete in the contest in October. Brenton and Sarah will be invited to share their stories in my Year 10 Japanese classes. The Year 10 students will no doubt be inspired by Sarah and Brenton’s “ unforgettable” journey to Japan.
Please continue reading to get an insight into Brenton’s experience:
I remember waking up on the morning of Monday the 2nd of December. As you can imagine I barely the night before because of my excitement, but nothing stopped me getting up at 6am that morning. After cramming my final few things into my bag, I packed it into the back of the car and we drove to Melbourne. I met with Sarah Wynen and our excitement just grew once we both realized what was about to happen. After making it onto the plane, it was a 9hr flight to Hong Kong International Airport where we had a quick stopover before we made our way onto the connecting flight. Before we knew it we had landed in Osaka. It was still a long drive into Inagawa where we would meet our host families, but once we had reached the home of our host families it was past 11pm. After introducing ourselves we made it to bed very quickly.
Still tired, I jumped out of bed early the next morning. After looking at my itinerary I had realized, the rest of our trip was going to be jam-packed full of exciting activities. On our first full day, Sarah and I had an official meeting with the Mayor of Inagawa. Both Sarah and I gave a short speech to the mayor about what we looked forward to. This was a very formal occasion, but the mayor was very friendly and made us both feel very comfortable.
After the first day I had heard news that my travelling buddy, Sarah, would not be taking part in any activities for quite a while as she was in hospital. This was very sad news to me as Sarah was a very worthy winner of this prize and it was also her first overseas trip. While I was there, the Inagawa city council members looked after me very well as they knew it would be harder for me without Sarah. Most of the council members spoke very good English, so I got to know them very well. Over the next 10 days I visited places like the Tsutsujigaoka Elementary School, the Instant Noodle Museum, the Silver & Copper Mine, Mutsuse Junior High School and the Nakatani Junior High School. I also spent a full day in Kyoto, where I visited temples, made Japanese sweets and also visited the aquarium, which was lots of fun. Two of the most interesting places that I visited were the fire station, the town’s library.
At the fire station, I met with the chief firefighter and after a short meeting I was given a tour. Although only a very small building, the fire station had plenty of equipment inside. I was able to try on a fire fighters mask and gas tank. I was also given the opportunity to be taken up in the fire engine’s ladder. After quickly being convinced it was must-do thing, I made my way up 40 metres high and it felt amazing. It then started to spin, which was what really scared me. At the local library there were classes being held in a small room for adults who wanted to learn English. After being introduced to about 20 people I was then brought to the front of the class to ask the class questions. They were very shy about speaking to me in English, but it was very fun! I got to know the teacher there very well. He was Australian, but spoke very fluent Japanese also. It was great to meet him and talk about the differences between Australian and Japanese culture.
Finally, before leaving, I was thrown a thank you party. Many of the people I had met were there and it was a great opportunity to say thank you and goodbye. After some very embarrassing speeches, a few sing-alongs and lots of food, a very good dance crew from a local high school performed. They got everyone to join in and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. It felt like I had only been in Japan for a few short days, but before I knew it, it was time to go again. I said my last goodbyes to my host family who were honestly the sweetest people you could ever meet and drove back to Osaka. After a stop over in Hong Kong I made it home safely and my family could not wait to hear about all the memories those two short weeks had given me.