Saiki City students say 'sayonara' to schools
A WHIRLWIND exchange visit from students at Johan High School in Saiki City has left a positive impression on Toolooa State High School.
As part of the 22-year Sister City relationship between Gladstone and Saiki City, students from Johan High School visited Toolooa SHS while another school group joined students at Tannum Sands State High School.
The Toolooa SHS visit held special significance as it celebrated the 20th anniversary of the relationship.
Toolooa SHS Japanese coordinator Bonnie Assman has been in the role since 2011 and, among other things, helps organise student trips between Saiki City and Gladstone.
But it's not as simple as booking and paying for flights, as host families, field trips and other activities need sorting for students during their short and busy stay.
"The students arrived on Friday which coincided with our NAIDOC celebration," she said.
"They were culturally exposed to traditional Aboriginal dancers from our boys' dance group, cooked Anzac biscuits and lamingtons, took a PE lesson learning about Australian sports and a lesson in Aboriginal artwork.
"This is a great opportunity for our kids and their kids with lifelong friendships made."
The students' whirlwind visit comes to an end today as they head home via Singapore.
Toolooa's trips to Japan are longer in duration with students spending five days with a host family and using the remaining five days to tour the country.
Johan High School travels to Gladstone during even-numbered years while Toolooa visit on odd years.
Mayor Matt Burnett said the Sister City relationship between the Gladstone Region and Saiki City has proved to be a valuable cultural exchange between the two communities
"It is the youngest residents who benefit the most, gaining an insight into another culture and a greater understanding of the common humanity we all share, regardless of where we come from," Cr Burnett said.
"The student exchange program and the Saiki Children's Day event at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum, featuring hundreds of students throughout the region learning Japanese art forms and customs, are prime examples of this.
"The annual Intercity Images exhibition, an exchange of images between Saiki City and Gladstone Region residents, is a popular feature of the Sister City relationship with this year's event being launched at GRAGM on August 25."