Initiative to support exchange between Australian and Japanese schools – AUS+RALLY bringing kids together even during COVID times
The Australian Embassy Tokyo is working to facilitate virtual exchange between Australia and Japanese school students. With face-to-face exchange greatly limited due to COVID-19, the Embassy is supporting schools as they bridge the distance between Australia and Japan using creative online engagement. The Embassy has also provided online educational videos and materials to assist Japanese students learn about Australia.
As part of these activities, the Embassy is supporting the Australian Olympic Committee’s Australian Olympic Connect program which links Australian schools with schools located in the Olympic host country. Ahead of Tokyo 2020, “Australian Olympic Connect Tomodachi 2020” is aimed at linking young Australians to their counterparts in Japan. The program is structured to promote the international connection between two countries, fostering a safe cultural learning environment and providing a unique insight into each country’s customs, lifestyle and activities in the lead up to the Olympics. The objectives of this program align closely with the Embassy’s AUS+RALLY sports diplomacy initiative.
Currently 20 schools in Australia and 20 schools in Japan are taking part in a pilot program for two months, starting after the summer school holidays in Japan. Japanese primary and junior high school students will connect with their Australian peers via video chats, email and the Internet to learn about each other’s countries and cultures.
Seven of the Japanese local governments which have become “Friends of Australia” under the AUS+RALLY initiative have joined this pilot program, with their schools connecting with Australian schools【Odawara city, Fuchu city, Nagaoka city, Saitama Prefecture, Urayasu city, Kamaishi city, Fujisawa city】.
Ambassador Richard Court AC said “This is a wonderful program. We can’t travel to each other countries presently but this program will create new connections and relationships between our two countries. I hope it will provide an opportunity for Japanese children to feel closer to Australia and they will support Australian athletes during the games.”
We have renewed the AUS+RALLY website with more digital content for Japanese students to learn about Australia and Australian sport. We hope that these material and content will be useful for the program and for others learning about Australia.
One of our focus projects is an educational video series for students called “Japan connecting with Australia” – in the videos, Australian Embassy staff talk about Australian culture and lifestyle, and about the Australia-Japan relationship.
There are other materials such as cute paper craft with a hand-size Koala and Quokka so that kids can have fun at home or at school while learning about Australia.
Our hope is that using this digital content, we are still be able to connect Japan and Australia. For schools participating in the Australian Olympic Connect Tomodachi 2020 pilot program, and for schools that already have existing relationships, we hope this website will act as a source of interesting information for young Japanese students to feel closer to Australia.
The Embassy looks to advance bilateral relationship between Australia and Japan through supporting education online through the sports diplomacy initiative “AUS+RALLY”.