President's Report - Japan Australia Friendship Association (JAFA) Annual General Meeting
23 November 2016
For a relatively small organization we continue to achieve success that is the envy of longer established counterpart organizations.
Our monthly J-Kai social gathering has attracted consistently high attendance with the informal atmosphere allowing people to enjoy meeting for friendship and language exchange and continues to attract a large number of international students from a variety of countries. Our mid-winter dinner and end of year bonenkai are always popular attracting more people than we can accommodate.
Our main event each year remains the Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival in early May. It is the largest Japan festival in South Australia and one of the largest in the country. This year, in recognition of JAFA’s good reputation, we were given a three year funding agreement for the festival by Multicultural SA.
The proceeds of the festival were again used to support communities in need with a donation of $3,000 dollars being made to UNHCR for relief efforts after the earthquake in Ecuador and $3,000 to Kumamoto City to help in the restoration of Kumamoto Castle which was damaged in an earthquake.
I said last year, in relation to the Koinobori Project, that the distinguishing characteristics of JAFA are imagination and creativity and the passion and energy to bring our ideas to fruition. The Koinobori Project was a significant initiative to keep alive the sister-city relationship with Himeji and the koinobori were displayed at the Himeji International Festival last month.
These characteristics were in evidence once more with our newest event AnimeGO! A group of us with Steven Atwood as event coordinator, worked for the last year organizing the event which was held on October 22nd. The aim of the project is to increase the awareness and understanding of Japanese culture through the medium of Anime, and attract a new demographic to foster the Australia Japan relationship. The event was sponsored by the City of Prospect and also received funding from the Australia Japan Foundation.
The origami and calligraphy classes have become a social club attracting some very talented origami practioners and passionate calligraphers. Emiko and my wife Machiko do a great job with these activities, also conducting a very popular workshop at the Moon Lantern Festival and judging origami in the Craft section of the Royal Adelaide Show, which next year, will include an origami workshop.
The Moon Lantern Festival is the community aspect of the OzAsia Festival, which this year celebrated its tenth anniversary with performances from across Asia. It is now the preeminent cultural event in Australia celebrating our ties with our Asian neighbours.
We continue to support Japanese language learning with awards to students of Japanese who gain a score of 20/20 in the SSABSA Yr. 12 assessment cycle and to the best student in Japanese at the School of Languages. And we will be conducting the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December with a record number of applicants.
The What’s On message each month provides information JAFA events and a variety of Japan related activities. Over 1,000 people receive the message directly with teachers of Japanese forwarding it to their students. Our Facebook page is updated regularly so it’s worth logging on to find out what’s happening.
All of these activities are the result of the dedicated work put in by the Committee members. This year there have been some changes with Elizabeth Nguyen leaving to travel to the UK. She also had the role of volunteer coordinator for the Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival for some years and I would like the meeting to record a vote of thanks for her contribution. Martin Pietsch joined us and took on the role of Secretary. Emiko Mayer will continue as Vice President, Kate King does a great job with the finances and will continue as Treasurer and Victoria Kyriakopoulos continues handling publicity with the What’s On message, Facebook and some eye-catching poster designs for our events. Wade Beger, our Public Officer, has embarked on another decade on the Committee and Herbert Dorfmeister looks set for a long stint. Steven Attwood joined us last year and took on the role of coordinator for our recent AnimeGO event.
The Committee members all have an opportunity to represent JAFA at various functions. The biennial conference of the National Federation of Australia Japan Societies was held in Cairns this year and Ben Sparrow was elected as Vice President with Wade Beger also joining the committee. With two of our members on the Committee we'll have strong input into the future direction of the Federation. Other committee members have attended functions at Government House and Steven will be presenting the JAFA Award for Excellence at the School of Languages awards ceremony next week.
We maintain good working relations with other Japan related organizations in South Australia and are often contacted by schools, community organizations and the general public for information and assistance on matters relating to Japan.
JAFA is a volunteer community organization creating opportunities for engagement with Japan, its people and culture. All members can enjoy and participate in our activities and if any are interested in assisting please come forward so that JAFA can continue as an active community organization.