Student exchange brings rewards

Article image - Student exchange brings rewards Even with advances in technology and international travel being more accessible, this volunteer run exchange is still as popular as ever.

The annual Busselton-Sugito (Japan) Student Exchange Program was created to provide students from Busselton, Western Australia, with exposure to another country’s culture. 

This unique homestay program, now in its 26th year, has provided over 400 students with a unique cultural experience and life-long memories.

Students from Sugito are home hosted in Busselton for eight days during August. Students from Busselton then enjoy a homestay in Japan in the October school holiday.  

All students attend local schools with their hosts and do sightseeing tours. But it is the immersive homestay experience that gives students the best insight into one another’s culture.

The City has enjoyed a Sister City Relationship with Sugito since 1996 and according to Mayor Grant Henley, the student exchange program is key to the objectives of the relationship.

“The exchange promotes goodwill between the two towns and peoples of Australia and Japan. We want our young people to participate proactively in building a peaceful world and the exchange program provides this opportunity.”

President of the Busselton and Sugito Sister City Association (BASSCA) Pauline Vukelic participated in her first Japanese exchange as a teenager.

“Seeing how much the students grow in confidence is probably the most rewarding part of being involved in the program.”

Many past participants have gone on to achieve amazing success.  Hayley Winchcombe participated in the exchange as a Busselton High School student in 2010.

She went on to study in South East Asia on an Australian Government New Colombo Plan Scholarship. She then undertook internships with the Australian Mission to ASEAN and the ASEAN Foundation and is now on course towards a diplomatic career.

Hayley said that travelling to Japan as a 14-year-old on the student exchange opened up her horizons.  

“My experiences through BASSCA will continue to serve me throughout my career and life.”