Good Samaritan Education Staff Immersion Trip to Japan

Nov 13, 2016

In the last September holidays I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity of a staff immersion to Japan, led by Sister Meg Kahler and Monica Dutton. One staff member from each of the Good Samaritan Education Schools was chosen. We embarked on our journey on Friday 23 September from Sydney and met up with our interstate colleagues in Singapore to fly to Japan to begin a week-long experience and immersion in the Japanese culture.

Our coordinators did a brilliant job of ensuring we had a valuable and worthwhile experience retracing the footsteps of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan back in 1948 when they went to assist the victims of the bomb that devastated Nagasaki. It is hard to comprehend the sheer courage and fortitude of those pioneering Catholic nuns, in a foreign land, dealing with extreme sickness and suffering.

Our journey began in Sasebo with a lovely afternoon cruise to see some of Japan’s beautiful islands. The next day we went on a tour of Nagasaki; a very heart-rending, yet valuable experience. On Monday we spent the day at Seiwa College; meeting the lovely students and learning a bit about their school. We had a calligraphy lesson and participated in a tea ceremony. The afternoon was spent at Our Lady of the Cherry Blossom Kindergarten where we saw some gorgeous children performing in a band for us. It brought a smile to everyone’s faces. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day ending with a dinner with some of the Seiwa College staff. The dinner was particularly special for me as Mount St Benedict College has a connection with the school as they visit us in March each year.

The next part of our immersion was to Miyajima Island for the night where we caught up with the group from Mount St Benedict. Onwards and upwards to Kyoto for the next three nights, including a day trip to Hiroshima, which was both disturbing and rewarding, as our guides helped us absorb the magnitude and after-effects of that first nuclear blast over 70 years ago.

The tour on the following day was of Kyoto visiting some historically important shrines and temples. It was wonderful being exposed to the different religions and complex culture within Japan. I return to Sydney, being better able to handle my relatively trivial challenges; our Japanese colleagues have to deal with so much more complexity and difficulty.

Our final day in Japan was one of the most memorable and special as we spent the day with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan at Nara. These six sisters showed us immense grace and hospitality. We were all very touched by their love and humility. We were able to learn a great deal about their spiritual and vocational life in Japan. Two sisters remained with us and showed us their city of Nara. It was lovely just being able to chat with these ladies and learn more about their life and the work they do in Nara.

I know I am speaking for all the staff that so valued the immersion opportunity. Sister Meg and Monica contributed greatly to an extremely valuable and worthwhile experience. And we all have some new friends from the other Good Sam Schools.

Thanks again to our illustrious leaders Meg and Mon.

Linda Simmons
Mount St Benedict College