Back row: Ebru Kilinc, Samantha Duff (YMCA Kalgoolie), Amee Berthun, Louisa Caldwell, Tanya Mischler, Sarah Hernan. Front row: Bryce McAdam, Edward Stubbings, Eloise Roche, Tessa McMahon. Not pictured: Lexie Huculak
A group of passionate young staff and volunteers recently returned from interning at Osaka YMCA in Japan, where they worked in a range of fields including swimming teaching, kindergarten assistants, conference facilitators and digital communications.
With the partnership between YMCA Victoria and Osaka YMCA strengthening year by year, this year’s group of interns were tasked with not only their official roles, but also to represent our organisation on this global scale.
Aside from working in their roles, the interns also attended the Global Youth Conference, a five day conference held at Mt Rokko, Kobe, this year attended by 130 participants from 18 different countries. The GYC is a five day conference where young people discuss and debate global issues and exchange cultures, all the while building a network of likeminded individuals interested in becoming global citizens.
The GYC is run by young people, for young people. Tessa McMahon, Learning and Development Specialist at State Office, was a GYC Facilitator intern for Osaka YMCA. She was tasked with the job of co-facilitating workshops on Fake News for participants and says she found the entire experience rewarding, but challenging.
“A key takeaway for me is the friendships I made with the other facilitators and interns. Although they’re from different parts of the world, we will definitely remain friends for life.”
On a more formal note, the Australian interns also met with the Australian Consul General of Osaka, Mr David Lawson. Mr Lawson explained that as Australians abroad, these young people were representatives of not only the YMCA but of Australia as well.
Louisa Caldwell, Recreation and Community Engagement Officer at Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre and Camp Leader intern for Osaka YMCA, addressed Mr Lawson on behalf of the group.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be here representing the YMCA, but furthermore, I’m proud to be here representing Australia. I know that each new person I meet through my internship here in Japan presents an opportunity to build a connection and further establish the bond between Australia and Japan, and in particular the bond between sister cities Melbourne and Osaka.”
Interns had the opportunity to experience a different culture as they worked and lived in Osaka, often with home-stay families. Chopsticks, shoes off inside, and being quiet on public transport were all things that became second nature to this group of young people.
Amee Berthun, Marketing Officer and Lifeguard at the Benalla Aquatic Centre, completed a Kindergarten assistant internship for Osaka YMCA and lived at a homestay with a family from the kindergarten.
“I was very nervous about being in someone else's home and being able to be comfortable especially when half the family didn’t speak English... but I was extremely fortunate to have such an amazing and flexible family who took me in,” Amee says.
YMCA Victoria’s focus on creating global impact extends to its staff and volunteers, and this is the third year YMCA Victoria has sent interns to work for Osaka YMCA.