FCJ College is hosting 18 Japanese students and two teachers from their sister school, Sacred Heart College in Tokyo.
The visitors, who arrived on July 28 and will depart on August 12, are staying with FCJ College families and by all accounts are having a fabulous time.
Imagine coming from a city of more than 13.5 million people to Benalla, home of roughly 15 000.
A number of girls are staying with families who are out of town on farms and that has apparently been an eye-opening experience.
FCJ College and Sacred Heart College have undertaken exchanges now for the past six years, alternating the experience each year, so it is a two-way learning opportunity.
During their time with FCJ College they will experience a diverse range of Aussie experiences including day trips to Beechworth, Echuca and Melbourne.
They will also have the opportunity to visit to Healesville Sanctuary, Cooinda Aged care and St Joseph’s Primary school, as well as outings with their host families and of course visits to a range of classes to see what a typical Australian lesson is like.
One of the most positive and noticeable things we see during an exchange experience is regardless of cultural and language barriers, young people are essentially social beings who are inquisitive and interested in each other.
They show each other respect, tolerance and are inclusive, whether it is the Japanese students visiting here, or the FCJ College students visiting Japan.
One of the students, Hinako Tsutsumi, had the opportunity to ride a horse for the first time and has been enjoying lessons with her host family at Jane Galbally Horse Riding School in Greta West.
A highlight was meeting threeweek-old Irish Donkey Percy.
The students were asked a few questions about their experience thus far, and we received some interesting responses.
Meeting the mayor of Benalla was a highlight, and they have also enjoyed seeing kangaroos, speaking English, seeing nature and meeting new people.
When asked about their funniest experience they said Jumping on a trampoline with the host family’s dog, watching TV and tasting some Australian food.
— FCJ College
Donkey delight: Hinako Tsutsumi with host family Millicent and Kelsey Scriven feeding new mum Myrna as she feeds baby Percy.
Firm friends: Year 9 students Molly Heywood and Sophie Humphries with Sacred Heart students Momoko Kambe and Ayaka Kimura.
Cooking up a storm: Japanese and Australian students enjoy a home economics class.
Above: Hinako had never ridden a horse before coming to Australia.