Learn­ing ... but the news is all bad

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - by Alexis Gill­ham Ja­pan lat­est, page 4 alexis. gill­ham@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

SUR­VIVORS... Ja­panese ex­change stu­dent Seika Fuka­sawa, 17, of Nagano, with fel­low pupils at Townsville State High School

While the stu­dents’ home­town of Nagano was not di­rectly af­fected by the de­struc­tion, Townsville High prin­ci­pal Scott Ste­wart said the school had pre­pared for the worst.

‘‘ The stu­dents were all fine, they were all in good spir­its when they ar­rived,’’ he said.

‘‘ They have all been quiet but that’s be­cause they have been so busy since they ar­rived.

‘‘ They made the de­ci­sion to com­mit to the next avail­able flight and so they are out here tak­ing their minds off things.

‘‘ We are aware that while it’s ex­cit­ing when they are here I think once they get home this will catch up.’’

Kir­wan High School In­tern a t i o n a l a n d I s o l a t e d Stu­dents Sup­port co-or­di­na­tor Lor­raine Duve said stu­dents had spent 30 hours at the air­port wait­ing to find out if the air­port would re- open. ‘‘ All in all it’s been a har­row­ing two days for these 16 and 17-year-olds com­pounded by the fact the per­sonal trauma they may have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing know­ing what their coun­try is go­ing through,’’ Ms Duve said. ‘‘ It was a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion to c o n t i n u e w i t h t h e i r ex­change and t hey have come here and fo­cused on what they are do­ing here.

‘‘ There has been a lot of sup­port for the stu­dents.

‘ ‘ W e ’ v e o f f e r e d t h e m coun­selling and have any sup­port ser­vices they need.’’

T r o p i c a d o o t o u r c o - or­di­na­tor Kaz Raasch, who is look­ing af­ter the stu­dents while they were in Townsville said they had tried to keep them dis­tracted from the dev­as­ta­tion in Ja­pan.

‘‘ Ev­ery­thing has been fine so far.’’ The stu­dents will re­main in Townsville un­til next Wed­nes­day. WHEN Ja­pan’s largest ever earth­quake struck Narita Air­port, teacher Masanori Tsukada was about to board f o r T o wn s v i l l e wi t h 4 0 stu­dents and had to make a tough de­ci­sion.

Would he al­low the group travel to Aus­tralia, or can­cel the cul­tural ex­change his class had been wait­ing so ea­gerly to ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘ It was a big de­ci­sion but we couldn’t give up,’’ he said.

‘‘ I didn’t have the right to de­cide.’’

And so af­ter a one night de­lay, af­ter the air­port was de­clared shut on Fri­day, the stu­dents made the de­ci­sion to fly to Aus­tralia the mo­ment flights re-opened.

They ar­rived on Sun­day in time for Mon­day classes, with 18 stu­dents study­ing at Townsville High School and the re­main­ing 22 at Kir­wan High School.

The stu­dents are in their ‘‘ sopho­more’’ year at Mat­sum o t o A g a t a g a o k a H i g h School in Nagano and all are aged 16 and 17.

Photo: SUZANNE LOWE

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