On behalf of all 8 students, I would like to thank you all for giving us the opportunity to share our experiences with you all. The trip has been a life changing experience. Some of us had never done something like this before; from being out of the country, flying and being away from home and our families.
The trip has shown us the importance of budgeting, the value of money, teamwork, and studying well, as our report cards were also part of the application process.
Overall these are some of the aspects of the trip that had a huge impact on us. Firstly, the love and support we received from the Waitomo community. Everyone worked hard to make sure all 8 kids were safe and had a great time in Japan. This has strengthened our bond with the district, and has inspired us to give back to the community, and make Waitomo proud.
Secondly, the love and respect we received from the Tatsuno community.
When we arrived in Tatsuno, we were beautifully welcomed by the Tatsuno council and supporters. Inside the Tatsuno council,a collection of taonga gifted by representatives of Waitomo from the past provided a wonderful timeline of how long this sister city relationship has been going for. Something that I too am now a part of. We were very happy to see a garden in Tatsuno dedicated to Waitomo. The garden was shaped like the 2 islands that make up New Zealand, and they had placed a rock to mark where Te Kuiti is on the North Island. Within the garden, they had placed 2 traditional Maori carvings, with an explanation of where they are from as well.
During the day of the BBQ, we all really got a chance to share. Towards the end of the day, some the host family’s did a haka to show their appreciation and respect. It really goes to say that they had all taken the time to learn some of our culture and make us feel comfortable. On the same day, we all were fortunate enough to be part of their amazing firefly festival. It was wonderful to see how similar both Tatsuno and Waitomo are. With their beautiful fireflies and our stunning glowworms. The landscape of both towns, with lots of interest in farming as well.
We also got an opportunity to visit 2 schools in Tatsuno. Once again, they really showed us respect, by warmly welcoming us into their learning environment. The first school was Tatsuno Junior High, where we taught them Rippa Tag and Rippa Rugby. I think they really enjoyed the games, and they were very fast learners. The second school was a college, where we learnt the art of Japanese calligraphy from a true master. We learnt alongside the students from the college in the same classroom. It was truly amazing to learn from someone who had years and years of experience, and can make such beautiful art.
Overall, learning from each other, learning different skills, exploring both of the towns cultures, seeing such amazing people in a foreign place, all this and more will definitely have a big impact on how we as students and young people will go on in our lives.