I attended the JETAA Oceania Conference in Brisbane last November representing JETAA Auckland. Fellow JETAA Auckland committee member Shelley Butt also attended as the country representative for New Zealand.
This year’s focus was on Sister Cities and how JETAA can influence our sister city relationships. On day one a connection was made between Auckland and Queensland, as it had been discovered during the research and preparation for the conference that Auckland and Brisbane are already sister cities.
Could this be the start of a beautiful Sister Chapter relationship between Auckland and Queensland? Only time will tell.
Friday started with a meeting at lunch time for a trip down memory lane at MOS Burger with participants from other chapters as well as representatives from CLAIR in Sydney. That evening we visited the residence of the Consul-General to welcome back Queensland’s returnees.
On Saturday, there were presentations about sister city-related activities that each chapter does, and turns at the podium by two guest speakers. Barry Hancock from Brisbane City talked about the grassroots economic opportunities that sister cities present. Ross Humphreys, President of the National Federation of Australia Japan Societies and member of the Brisbane-Kobe Steering Committee, talked about building bridges and how important it is for those of us who have lived in Japan to become involved in sister city activities once we have arrived home.
That night we celebrated JETAA Queensland’s 20th Anniversary with a dinner cruise on the Brisbane River. We ate and drank, some of us in yukata, as the boat took us up and down the Brisbane River. It was a fantastic opportunity to bond with other JET alumni. After dinner – in true JET style – there was lots and lots of karaoke at a place near the hotel. (Some were a bit worse for wear the next morning!)
Sunday was a half-day during which we celebrated our successes since the last conference. JETAA Auckland were happy to report the implementation of a number of ideas from the previous conference, and thanked other chapters who have helped us in our efforts.
I came away from the conference with a head full of ideas on how to inspire and mobilise our chapter. It was also great to bond with other JET Alumni from all the New Zealand and Australian chapters. I would like to thank JETAA Queensland for hosting the event, and JETAA Auckland for allowing me to represent you.