Eight high school students from Blackwater, Emerald and Springsure have started fundraising for the trip of a lifetime, after being selected to participate in the annual Central Highlands Regional Council Sister City student exchange to Ichinoseki in Japan.
Emerald student Mai-Ly Duroux said the group will be offering breakfast to parkrunners in Emerald on Saturday 15 February 2020 to promote the program and help in their fundraising efforts.
‘For the community to come and help support us would mean a great deal to me, for all of us,’ she said.
‘Going to Japan is a dream of ours and would be an incredible life experience that we will remember fondly for the rest of our lives.’
She said she had loved being a part of the program so far and had met wonderful people through it.
‘I can recommend that everyone interested in Japanese language and culture should apply next year.’
Council’s General Manager Communities John McDougall said council had facilitated the popular program in Blackwater since 1991, with student’s fundraising for their travel an integral part of the experience.
‘Council organises the program and supports it through a donation and council staff accompanying the students on their trip as chaperones,’ he said.
‘Fundraising not only teaches the students lifelong skills, it also makes this exchange inclusive to students, regardless of their financial situation.
‘Our students have to work as a team, achieve their fundraising target and put in the work to make this trip happen – it’s just a fantastic opportunity.’
Mayor Kerry Hayes said the exchange was an important part of council’s international relations.
‘Our eight students have a big responsibility, representing Australia and our region’s values in a foreign country,’ he said.
‘It’s an experience that will stay with them for a lifetime and help them grow into fine young adults.’
Mayor Hayes said establishing and maintaining sister city relationships created an environment where cultural integration and mutual understanding prospers.
‘There’s no better time to form those friendships than with our youth.’
For more information on the now region-wide exchange and how you can participate, visit council’s website.
You can also support the students in their fundraising efforts at public events across the region, or via their GoFundMe page. If you would like to support the program as an official business sponsor, please contact council on 1300 242 686.