Educational trip benefits into future
ANNA Parker's passion for Japan has landed her the voyage of a lifetime which she plans to use to inspire local youth.
Born and bred in Maryborough, Ms Parker was one of 11 Australians selected to join 240 young leaders from around the world in the unique and prestigious youth development program, the Ship for World Youth, operated by the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan.
The Maryborough teacher applied for the program through the Japanese Embassy website in Australia.
"It looks like a fantastic program, an opportunity to meet people from around the world.
"I have been chosen as one of the assistant national leaders and will present the Crown Prince of Japan with a gift from Australia.
"I will go to the Imperial Palace for that in January, so there will be two weeks in Japan doing home-stay and training and then we all get on the ship and we are there for four weeks."
Taking place on the Nippon Maru cruise ship, the Australian delegation will travel to Japan on January 15, 2019 to embark on a six-week journey where participants will live and study alongside each other while discussing global issues and participating in multi-cultural exchange activities.
The delegation will travel to Japan, Solomon Islands, Palau and two Australian ports: Darwin and Brisbane.
They will be joined by delegates from Chile, Ecuador, Greece, Solomon Islands, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Japan.
Ms Parker's passion for Japan started when she was just 11 years of age.
"I started learning the language at St Mary's Primary and had an amazing teacher, Rachael Ward, and I have always been interested in foreign cultures and getting out and seeing something new.
"My parents are very interested in foreign cultures and opening up our perspectives, whether it be indigenous perspectives or foreign points of view and I just love Japanese.
"When I was 15 I went on exchange for a year and did grade 10 there and I caught the bug. It is my second home but it is where I hope to live in the future again."
She has studied Japanese for 13 years and spent three years living there teaching social sciences and English at a girls Catholic school.
"While I was there I co-ordinated the school's peace program that was run through the Australian national maritime museum.
"The students and I went and interviewed four Japanese survivors of the local air raids in Sendai and I had to translate the scripts and made a documentary using subtitles.
"Because of that project we ended up representing Japan and I took two students to Hawaii for a week.
"I was really passionate about representing Japan and looking at history from different perspectives, which is one of the reasons I wanted to go on the program as well was to listen to peoples' different ideas.
"There are people from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia, so there is a whole range of ideas coming about."
Although the government pays for the ship and flights those attending have many expenses, including uniforms and training in Canberra.
"We have a donations page on our website, even if they don't support, look at the page swyaus.org/swy- delegations - it is a registered charity."
Even though Ms Parker will be on a cruise ship it won't be recreational.
"While on the ship we have to run seminars, do cultural activities, run clubs, there will be professors from international universities coming on to facilitate educational seminars.
"I am really looking forward to hearing peoples' different perspectives on global issues and broadening my understanding and, hopefully, changing my ideas about some things to bring that back to the students I get to teach.
"I really want to make students aware of the ideas that are out in the world.
"Our goal is to come back to our communities and impart what we have learnt.
"Learning languages has helped me in my endeavours and I encourage students to do a second language.
"I hear often a lot of students say I'm never going to uni, I'm from here we are never going to leave the community - you can do whatever you what to do.
"I was born in Maryborough and I am meeting the Crown Prince of Japan."
At facebook.com/ShipFor World YouthAustralia/, Twitter (@swyaus) and Instagram (@swyaus).