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Your Story and Experiences If you have ever visited Papua New Guinea as a traveller, please tell us about your experience.

 
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Old 23-10-2003, 08:15 AM
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Wantok Reporter, William Natera, remembers a trip to Japan in 2002 and the friendship

We have friends in Japan - by William Natera

NIGHT TIME in Japan. A Japanese Airline aircraft cruises over the Land of the Rising Sun. That sun will rise soon but at the moment the darkness makes it difficult to tell where one one city ends and where another begins. Different coloured lights glow, broken in various places by vacant land, making it look like the circuit board of an electronic appliance.

There are 29 Papua New Guineans besides me on this flight that will shortly land at Kansai Airport in Osaka. We are Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) delegation to this country to participate in the JICA Friendship Programme for the 21st Century. A program designed to build relationship between our country and Japan. The team consists of 14 secondary teachers, 14 health workers and two journalists.

William Natera - Wantok Reporter takes a walk down memory lane:
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Old 23-10-2003, 08:17 AM
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Touchdown. The excitement that has been building begins to surface in the suddenly quickly darting eyes and chatter. Some members, although on their first visit to Japan, are well seasoned travellers, while others have been thrust into arguably the most high tech nation in the world on their first trip abroad. It may have proved a little daunting if we were not welcomed so warmly by the JICA staff.

From the airport a bus ride to the Osaka International Centre, OSIC for short, home for many foreign students on JICA courses where we were again greeted warmly, not only by Japanese, but by other Pacific Island program participants.

In Japan time is of the essence, and we were immediately rushed into the orientation program, tired as we were after the long flight. It was a lesson in hard work and punctuality.

To go into the finer details about the whole visit (three weeks) would be time consuming and boring so I will focus on the 'finest' detail, the establishing of relationships. Relationships such as those formed between the many other international trainees and program participants.

Participants watching high school students at work:
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Old 23-10-2003, 08:19 AM
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In hindsight the visit was one long celebration of friendship. From Osaka to Hokkaido, Obihiro City and Honbetsu Town, and Tokyo. Important as the seminars and lectures were, what was really important was the interaction with the Japanese people. What was most pleasing was that many of the Papua New Guinean delegates went the extra mile.

Eating out Japanse style:
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Old 23-10-2003, 08:22 AM
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They were not content with just meeting the Japanese such as their guides or homestay families. No. These were people who were 'programed', if you like, to meet them.

They joked with restaraunt owners, dropped 100 yen coins into the open palms of the street beggers, and tried to speak Nihongo (Japanese) with the schoolchildren who filled the streets in the evenings and tried to communicate in English.

Author enjoying Park Golf in Honbetsu, Hokaido:
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Old 23-10-2003, 08:23 AM
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But when they sang the old Japanese love song, Suki Yaki, in English with the young busker who sang in Japanese one night in Obihiro, that was the perfect portrait of friendship. And such was the trend in the visit, one out-stretched hand after another.

Author mingling with students at a school that we visited:
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Old 23-10-2003, 08:25 AM
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So as another Japanese aircraft rose from Kansai Airport with the returning delegates, there was more than a tinge of sorrow in the air.

Aaron Hangat dances with a Japanese Friend:
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Old 23-10-2003, 08:27 AM
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We already missed Japan. Not the trains, buildings, bright lights, shopping, food, the environment or technology.


We missed the people - We missed our friends
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