Feeding poddy kangaroos, handling slithery snakes, sharing learning experiences in the classroom: it may have been 18 years ago when primary students from Japan first visited The Armidale School, but by the look of the joy on the faces of this year’s visitors, the attraction of some things doesn’t change.
Forty six students from Tezukayama Gakuin Elementary School in Osaka have this week (18-22 August) been getting a taste for life at a school very different in their own, as part of an annual exchange between the two schools that is now heading into its third decade. Among the highlights have been be a milking cows and feeding orphaned kangaroos at Harlow Park and Wayward Jersey, Uralla, a disco with TAS students, a visit to Armidale’s Aboriginal Cultural Centre and interaction with their host families.
“The exchange is reciprocated every year, and it is wonderful to see long lasting relationships form as children stay with each other’s families and indeed, even as TEZ teachers return to TAS 15 years later, having visited as a student on exchange themselves, many years ago,” Head of TAS Junior School Ian Lloyd said.
“This enduring glimpse into another culture is a very genuine way of creating long-term cultural understanding, that is mutually beneficial.”
Tezukayama’s Principal Mr Arimura, who last visited TAS as a teacher 17 years ago, agrees.
“Osaka is a big city of 6 million people, so our children love the space and peace and natural beauty of Australia. They have had some wonderful experiences, touching animals especially kangaroos has been very special to them,” he said.
“The children have also experienced a very different school with lots of playing grounds and a small student to teacher ratio. Everyone has been very friendly and they will all remember their visit.”