Cultural exchange at Coogee

P1010602It was a week of cultural exchange when 20 Japanese students attended St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School Coogee from 25 to 29 July

The 16 girls and four boys from Nanzan Primary School in Nagoya, who were billeted with St Brigid’s families, were welcomed at the Monday morning assembly with the national anthems of both countries and the raising of the Australian and Japanese flags.

PE teacher, Ry Kato, who speaks fluent Japanese, told the visitors how excited the St Brigid’s community was to be hosting them for the week.

Over the five days, the Japanese students were part of classroom activities and playground games. They joined in robotics with Year 4, attended Mass and experienced some of the beauty of the Sydney coastline walking from Coogee to Clovelly, stopping at the Bali Memorial and the Anzac Memorial along the way. Using the book Possum Magic for inspiration, the students made vegemite sandwiches, pavlovas, Anzac biscuits and lamingtons.

I loved everything about being with the St Brigid’s students and attending their school.

– Mayu Sekiya, 11, Nanzan Primary School, Nagoya Japan

A group also joined Year 6 students for a water colour painting session in Dunningham Reserve at the north end of Coogee Beach where Australian artists’ Tom Roberts and Charles Conder painted back in 1888.

The students set up their easels near a sculpture and plaque commemorating the site of the artists’ work and spent an hour bringing to life a section of the beach.

Japanese students join St Brigids students water colour painting at Coogee Beach.

Water colour painting at Coogee Beach near the spot where Australian artists Charles Conder and Tom Roberts painted in 1888.

Before they began St Brigid’s Visual Arts teacher, Hellie Mahony introduced the students to the art of Roberts and Conder, who she said were the beginning of plein air painting where artists went into the landscape to paint.

She also gave the students instruction on techniques of water colour painting including tonal gradation, wet on wet, layering, painting detail and advised them to slow down and look closely at the scene in front of them.

Ms Mahony said it was lovely to be able to bring the children outdoors and to follow in the footsteps of two great artists and plein air paint.

“Another lovely connection is that Charles Conder was influenced by Japanese art, the brushstrokes and style of painting.”

St Brigids students gather with their Japanese friends for water colour painting on Coogee Beach.

St Brigids students gather with their Japanese friends at Coogee Beach.

Teacher-librarian Catherine Prichard said the Japanese group’s visit linked in with St Brigid’s students study of Asia in History and Geography.

“It fitted in so well with comparisons of population and land areas between how many people are in Australia and how many are in Japan and the different animals and culture.”

“It was interesting finding out what the Japanese students do in their spare time and about their culture, like the fact that they have rice for breakfast.

– Olivia Joseph, Year 6, St Brigid’s Coogee

Eleven-year-old Mayu Sekiya said she loved everything about being with the St Brigid’s students and attending their school.

Her billet, Sienna Aguliar, 12, enjoyed learning about how their cultures are different.

Bailey White, said it was so nice meeting all the Japanese students and playing together at lunch time.

“We did a group skip the other day. Before we started I thought, ‘how is this going to go?’, but their skipping was so much better than ours!”

Olivia Joseph, together with triplet sisters’ India and Ella hosted Chiro and Natsuka, said it was interesting finding out what the Japanese students do in their spare time and about their culture, like the fact that they have rice for breakfast.

“It was fun when they showed us how to do origami and we showed them how to make scoobies.”

“It was a wonderful week of cultural exchange and friendship…

– Antoinette Harvey, Principal

On the last day, the Japanese students put on a performance for their Australian friends and joined them in a farewell barbeque.

Parent Mary Dix, who hosted 11-year-old Haru, said her family was touched by his gentle and sincere nature and by the heartfelt gestures of appreciation throughout the week from his family back in Japan.

“Planning events with the other St Brigid’s families who hosted other students from the group was a lot of fun and fostered a lovely sense of community among us.”

Principal Antoinette Harvey said it was a wonderful week of cultural exchange and friendship which St Brigid’s hopes to continue with the Nanzan students when they return to Japan.

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