Youth ambassadors 2018: Destination Australia
Youth ambassadors, teachers and student delegates from each nation came to Australia this year for a program of activities and special engagements to foster leadership skills and international friendships.
First stop was Cowra, scene of a Japanese prisoner-of-war (POW) breakout in 1944. Local historians toured us through the POW camp site and the Japanese Memorial Garden, before we took time to reflect at the Japanese and Australian military cemeteries.
The power of empathy and reconciliation became very evident to us all here. The youth ambassadors ran community events and delivered speeches on their projects at the World Peace Bell.
Next we travelled to Canberra to be special guests at the opening of the new Remembrance Garden at Amaroo School. While in the national capital, students visited Parliament House, the National Museum and the National Zoo, and took special ‘investigating history’ workshops at the Australian War Memorial Research Centre and the Museum of Australian Democracy.
A major responsibility for the youth ambassadors was to give an address at the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Remembrance Day ceremony on 11 November. This was a big stage for teenagers, but they certainly rose to the occasion, reflecting on the importance of remembering those who served their countries in conflict, how war affects everyone and the importance of working towards a peaceful future. They laid wreaths and met with people connected to the Krait/Operation Jaywick mission in 1943. It was an emotional and inspiring day.
The following Monday saw us step back in time on a fascinating tour of the World War II tunnels at North Head, and the next day the students hosted their own exhibition opening at the museum. Each student introduced their school’s research project; a highlight was the inspired performance by our Japanese youth ambassador, Saya, who played a song of peace on a traditional instrument, the koto. This was a special connection, as a relative of a student in her group taught koto while in a World War II American internment camp.
Japanese youth ambassador, Saya, plays a song of peace on a traditional instrument, the koto.
Then it was off to the New South Wales Parliament, where the group was officially welcomed by the Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. They then enjoyed a behind-the-scenes adventure at the State Library of New South Wales and a thought-provoking session at the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park. Our final night was spent aboard the Sydney Heritage Fleet’s James Craig.
Over the week the group developed strong friendships and rose to the challenges we set for them.
"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to experience and learn so many new things and to meet such great people."
Join the program in 2019
Applications for the 2019 program are now open. The theme is Secrets of War and the Youth Ambassador destination is JAPAN.
Download the prospectus or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Olivia McLennan, St Raphael’s Catholic School,
Cowra, NSW, Australia
- Brianna Matthews, Station Camp High School,
Gallatin, Tennessee, USA
- Saya Watanabe, Sendai Shirayuri Gakuen High
School, Sendai, Japan
- St Raphael’s Catholic School, Cowra, Australia
- Cowra High School, Cowra, NSW, Australia
- Amaroo School, Canberra, ACT, Australia
- Sendai Shirayuri Gakuen High School, Sendai, Japan
- Osaka Meisei Gakuen High School, Osaka, Japan
- Jumonji Gakuen High School, Tokyo, Japan
- Station Camp High School, Gallatin, Tennessee, USA
- Academy of the Canyons High School, Santa Clarita, California, USA