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Girton celebrates 30-year bond with Japanese sister school

21 March 2024

Over the past two weeks, Ҵý has been delighted to host 12 students and two teachers from Gojo Senior High School in Japan, marking a proud milestone in the schools’ longstanding exchange program.

This trip holds special significance, as it not only marks Gojo’s first visit to our shores since the pandemic put a stop to international travel, but also the 30th anniversary of the sister school relationship.

In one of regional Victoria’s longest running exchange programs, Gojo has been sending students to Bendigo since 1992 and, in return, Girton students studying Japanese have had the opportunity to travel to Japan during the spring and summer school holidays.

During this stay, the guests from Gojo have immersed themselves in various activities, including participating in Girton’s Athletics Carnival, touring Melbourne, staying with Girton host families, and practising their English language skills while attending classes.

In September, a contingent of 16 Girton students and two staff members will be making the journey to Japan, where they will have the opportunity to visit cities including Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka in addition to experiencing school life at Gojo and residing with their host families.

Girton Grammar’s Head of Japanese, Mrs Liz Blanks, said both schools are delighted to have this life-changing experience up and running once again.

“From our perspective, you cannot put a price on the value of meeting young Japanese people in real life and discovering shared interests despite language and cultural differences,” Mrs Blanks said.

“I encourage every young person to consider hosting a Japanese student or travelling on exchange to Japan, because there may be no other time in their lives that they can have such a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the language and culture.”

“Although so much has changed in our schools over the past 30 years, from new uniforms to new principals and buildings, the essence of our relationship with Gojo has always remained the same.”

This is the second group of Japanese students Girton Grammar has hosted this March, after 13-year-old cyclists Konoha Ogawa and Hoho Sasaoka attended the school while they were visiting Bendigo to compete in the International Madison.

As the only school in the region offering Japanese studies, Girton was pleased to be able to provide language support to the visiting students and their educators.