In 1998, when I was studying for my degree course in Kyushu Univ 3rd year, I decided to participate as a volunteer in Asia-Pacific Children Convention in Fukuoka during the summer holidays. This huge event is organized since 1988 by an NGO in Fukuoka, now known as APCC to promote peace and international ties between Japan and participating countries.
Every year APCC invites children all over Asia-Pacific countries to Fukuoka. During their 2-week stay, they will experience homestay at typical Japanese homes, and participate in various activities arranged for them. Usually there will be 10 participants from each country, 8 selected school children, 1 PA (Peace Ambassador) and 1 chaperon. That makes up about 400 participants in total. As this international event requires a lot of communication in English/ various languages, anybody can join as a volunteer in documentation, and on field. That was where I came in. I participated in this event as a volunteer to help Malaysian delegates communicate, along with a junior student from Malaysia, Adie, who was assigned to help children from Tuvalu.
You can check the details of this event at http://www.apcc.gr.jp/e/
This was one of the most precious experiences I had in Fukuoka. I got to know people from various countries, esp from those we rarely hear about like Tuvalu and Bhutan. I got Matsuoka's (a top Japanese tennis player at the time) sign my yellow "We are the bridge" t-shirt which kept until last year (that was 10 years). The delegates, homestay families and volunteers were so cheerful and friendly which made saying goodbye to them was so painful to me.
And all those memories come back to life when one of the boys contacted me through facebook recently. Man, they still remember me? Unbelievable! They were 11 years old when I first met them, sekarang dah besar panjang! Syahmi, Zahirah, Sharifah were those I met at the meeting.
That brought me to the meeting between APCC representative from Fukuoka, former APCC participants with officers at Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia and later with Embassy of Japan. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss matters pertaining APCC like sponsorship etc, but most importantly about the establishment of Bridge Club Malaysia. Bridge Club is an alumni for those participated in APCC, and their job is to promote APCC by making activities and social work in their country. Sri Lanka,Indonesia and Thai BCs are already active but Malaysia has yet to start any.
Now it is time for these kids to make their first move, and I think it is my responsibility to help them in any way I can. The establishment of Malaysia's BC will help promote the ties between 2 countries thus realize the motto of APCC, "We are the Bridge".