Applications for the 2019 Busselton Sugito student exchange have opened and a former student has spruiked the benefits of the program.
The exchange opportunity is open to all Year 9 students from the five Busselton secondary schools.
The annual student exchange between Busselton and the three junior high schools in Sugito is organised by the Busselton and Sugito Sister Cities Association.
South West graduate Hayley Winchcombe visited Japan as a Busselton High School Year 9 student after being selected for the exchange program in 2010. She is now on track for a diplomatic career.
In 2018, she studied in South East Asia on an Australian Government New Colombo Plan scholarship as part of her Honours in Political Science and International Relations, under the University of Western Australia's prestigious Bachelor of Philosophy degree.
Her studies focused on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and she lived in Jakarta to undertake further internships.
Ms Winchcombe, now 22, said travelling to Japan as a 14-year-old with the exchange program opened up her horizons and cultural awareness.
“The Busselton and Sugito Sister City Association program assisted me in winning a partial scholarship to visit Japan again the following year, and subsequently undertaking a Rotary Youth Exchange in France and university exchanges in Spain and Singapore," she said.
“The trip fuelled my motivation to become fluent in Japanese, which I was studying at Busselton Senior High School, and gave me the opportunity to improve my ATAR through a LOTE bonus that led me to where I am today.
“I think my experiences through the Busselton and Sugito Sister City Association program will continue to serve me throughout my career and life."
Now in its 26th year, the exchange program also gives Busselton families a chance to host a student from Sugito for 10 days in August.
Busselton students are then hosted by a family in Sugito during the September/October school holidays.
An information evening for parents and students interested in participating in the program will be held on Monday, March 18 at the Youth and Community Activities Building on the Busselton Foreshore from 6pm.
Information on the program, dates, costs and what to expect while on the exchange will be outlined.
Past participants will also be on hand to share their experiences.
For information or to register, visit bassca.asn.au or contact Mary-lee on 0429 700 551 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.