Showcase Swan Hill

THE Mallee's Laura Crossfield will hit the high seas for the adventure of a lifetime in January.

Ms Crossfield will join approximately 240 other young adults from seven different countries on-board the Nippon Maru cruise ship as part of the Ship for World Youth Leaders (SWY) program.

Ms Crossfield is expected to take 100 gifts with her and is seeking donations from around the region to put the Mallee on an international platform.

Laura Crossfield will join approximately 240 other young adults from seven different countries on-board the Nippon Maru cruise ship as part of the Ship for World Youth Leaders (SWY) program.

Laura Crossfield will join approximately 240 other young adults from seven different countries on-board the Nippon Maru cruise ship as part of the Ship for World Youth Leaders (SWY) program.

The program is funded by the Japanese Government, and invests in young global leaders with the aim of preparing them to work and thrive in a globalised world.

During the six-week journey, these young leaders will work and study side-by-side, with the aim of fostering international connections, communication and co-operation.

The 28-year-old Woorinen resident heard about the course from a friend who had completed the journey and said when applications opened again she jumped at the chance to apply.

After a lengthy and sometimes daunting application process, Ms Crossfield said she couldn't wait for her journey to begin.

"We spend two weeks in Japan, we fly into Tokyo then we go out to Osaka and stay with a host family for two nights," she said.

Ms Crossfield speaks no Japanese and has been told her host family potentially will not know

any English, so she is doing her best to "learn the basics" in the lead up to her stay.

From Japan, Ms Crossfield will join the other delegations of young leaders on-board the Nippon Maru for a four-week voyage.

Applicants have to choose courses prior to departure, with options of units such as global citizenship, effect of public health on population and environment.

"It runs like a university basically, it is all about education and creating that global network of leaders so everyone is on the same page," she said.

"The Japanese Government essentially gets experts in their field from all over the world to deliver seminars on these topics and when we have ports of call, in Darwin for example, they have indigenous art, the turtle conservation — everything links in to whatever course you have selected."

The ship will also stop off at the Solomon Islands, Palau and Brisbane and will carry delegates from Chile, Ecuador, Greece, the Solomon Islands, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Japan.

Ms Crossfield already has a significant amount of experience interacting with people from different cultures, and currently works with refugees and asylum seekers — a topic she said she is interested to hear her fellow student's views on.

"Greece is one of the participating countries I am really interested in because obviously they have a lot of Syrians coming into Greece, whereas there is also Turkey where a lot of refugees tend to come from, so I am interested in their take from that," she said.

"I think it will be really good to meet so many people from different cultures that have a common goal, obviously a lot of the countries are less privileged than what we are in terms of education and health care and even having those discussions about how we want to present Australia is a reminder of how good we have things.

"But, you also see a lot of common issues faced with all community services sectors like gender inequality, and how to get more funding for health services, so it will be good to see how those different countries have dealt with setback similar to ours."

Ms Crossfield said it has been less than easy to come up with gift ideas, but has decided she wants to seize the opportunity to showcase the Swan Hill region.

Based on the advice of previous program participants, Ms Crossfield said indigenous artwork and wine were usually very well received.

Ms Crossfield said she is looking for donations from the local area to help her showcase the Mallee and encourages international visitors to take a trip to the region.

"What I want is for Swan Hill and the Swan Hill region to be put on an international platform," she said.

"I think it is important to promote Swan Hill in a way that shows its strengths, so any gift that can be given, and I guess it is an opportunity for businesses to promote themselves in an international sphere."

Ms Crossfield said she was looking forward to the start of the program on January 15, 2019.

"I am so excited, because as well as being a tourist we get to learn about the customs," she said.

"We had to go to Canberra to do this on-boarding [program] and meet with the Japanese embassy, and while we were there they were talking about the slippers.

"There's slippers they wear in the house, but then there's also bathroom slippers and those are left outside the bathroom. Then you wear the slippers in the communal area, but when you go to your bedroom you have your own slippers and I just thought if I was staying in a hotel, I would never have this slippers issue.

"They have us this booklet on Japanese culture and I'm like, 'Oh my god', reading through, it's things like you have to give a gift with both hands, even if you are handing out your business card.

"There's so many things I will probably forget, but it's really cool and I'm really excited for the experience."

Ms Crossfield said anyone wanting to submit a donation or become a sponsor should head to the SWY website: https://www.swyaus.org/

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