Opportunity beckons for chance of a lifetime

KARAOKE, sumo-wrestling and ancient temples beckon eight Dubbo students to experience a brand new culture overseas.

Applications for the Dubbo City Council Minokamo Student Exchange program are still being accepted for eight lucky students aged 15 to 18.

The annual exchange program has sent eight students each September to the Japanese city of Minokamo, Dubbo's 'sister city', for the last few years.

For 10 to 14 days, students will live with a host Japanese family, go to school and have the trip of a lifetime.

Sister City officer Kylie Sutherland said students and chaperones still had three weeks to apply for the program.

"Applications at this stage are always a bit slow but so far we've received about six," she said.

"We usually get about 30 students from the Dubbo local government area apply."

Once the applications close on March 15, the applicants will get shortlisted. Students will then get interviewed by a panel of four residents consisting of Mrs Sutherland and residents that have long standing in the community. From there eight students will prepare to leave for Japan.

"It's not like a job interview, it's a chance to learn more about them... to see if they're suitable to go to Japan. We'll pick the kids we think will cope with living overseas for two weeks.

"The host parents may not speak a lot of English, which makes it hard to communicate. The students have to be able to cope with that," Mrs Sutherland said.

In the past, students have visited ancient temples, go on boat rides and go on day trips around Japan either as a group or with their host families.

The feedback from past students has been positive and the students run on adrenaline because of their growing experiences, Mrs Sutherland said.

"The students have minimal contact with their families when they go to Japan. But the program is great for their personal growth. They now know they can survive on their own and make lasting friendships," she said.

Chaperones have until March 8 to submit their applications.

A group of Japanese students will touch down in Dubbo in July for two weeks as part of their exchange program.

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