Opening the world

11 Sep 2017

A “life changing” trip to Japan for this year’s Pacific Rim International Camp has given Year 12 student Josh Ting a whole new outlook – and he could not be happier. “I felt like it was a fortunate stroke of serendipity when I was given the opportunity to attend and I’ll be forever grateful,” says Josh.

The aim of the camp is to promote cultural understanding and international friendship, as well as fostering leadership skills and environmental awareness.

Josh was away from Monday 7 to Wednesday 23 August. He says he had no clear idea what to expect, but was soon caught up in the excitement of meeting new people and discovering a new country and culture.

The group spent the first few days in Tokyo, where they were introduced to various aspects of Japanese culture, including having the opportunity to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Next up was a homestay in the town of Nachikatsuura, where Josh enjoyed playing big brother to his host family’s young children and learning more about the Japanese way of life. Then, both overseas and Japanese campers met at the National Takato Youth Centre in Nagano for an immersive wilderness experience, which combined a range of outdoor activities and education programmes with leadership development. “The camp counsellors – our mentors – helped us push outside our comfort zones, try new things, take ownership of what we were doing, and learn how to appreciate and get the most out of life,” says Josh. “I was told the main requirements of effective leadership are to set goals, to set an example and to enable others to fulfil their potential. That really resonated with me and changed my perspective on leadership. A leader is not necessarily the loudest person in the room, it’s the person who makes sure everyone’s involved and engaged.”

Back in Tokyo, the final few days flew by in a flurry of activities and fond farewells.

Josh arrived home with many treasured memories of his time in Japan, new friends from around the Pacific region, and the belief that what he learned at camp can be applied to all areas of life. “I feel I’m more confident, more tolerant, more thoughtful about where other people are coming from. It’s given me more of a global perspective and greater understanding of cultural differences. It was amazing.”