Captivating culture entices St Clare’s

For the past 30 years, Year 9 and 10 students from St Clare’s High School, Taree have embraced the wonders of another culture, visiting Kobe in Japan.

Twenty-four enthusiastic students embarked on the two-week long exchange program this year where they had the opportunity to immerse themselves in Japanese culture, from language, to food and traditional customs.

“Going to Japan with our students is always a life-changing experience for all involved,” said Japanese exchange co-ordinator Richard Petrucci. “There is nothing quite like being along for the ride with your students all the way from their first word in Japanese, through to conversing and laughing along in Japanese. Talk about job satisfaction.

“Our students always have a wonderful time in Japan and this year’s cohort were among the happiest we have ever seen on the exchange program.

“Entering an exchange program is a bit like entering an emotional pressure cooker — students are usually visiting for a short period of time, they are expected to display a significant level of cultural and emotional literacy while being out of routine and adjusting to being away from loved ones and home.”

The Japanese exchange program at St Clare’s is organised with its sister school, Kobe Kaisei Girls’ High School.

“Our sister school and all the people in it are simply beautiful,” Mr Petrucci said. “Kobe and its surroundings are stunning, offering our students an excellent insight into what Japan has to offer.”

The exchange program places students in a position where they must adapt to change quickly, face and overcome unanticipated challenges, and show a growing level of personal maturity.

“It is a test of resilience and adaptability undertaken with the help and direction of St Clare’s staff and the wonderful support of our Japanese colleagues and families,” Mr Petrucci said.

One student commented: “I've never thought of going to Japan, but with this experience the school has provided, I was shocked, and very excited about the culture that we explored.”

Another student said: "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, giving me a chance to experience other cultures. I wish I could rewind time just to do it again." 

Mr Petrucci said the exchange brings out the best in the school and staff.

“The amount of behind-the-scenes work that people complete to ensure that everything runs smoothly is staggering — so many little favours, jobs and meetings, which really highlight how important the program is to the school.”

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Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to and Aurora.