Every summer, children from over 40 countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific visit the city for the Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka (APCC). The APCC was first held in 1989 to coincide with the Yokatopia Expo, an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Fukuoka’s incorporation as a city, to promote exchange among children of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
APCC now consists of several projects, but the main event remains the Invitation Project which has continued since that first time all the way back in 1989. Junior Ambassadors, i.e., 11 year-old children from around the Asia-Pacific, congregate in Fukuoka where they stay with host families, visit local schools and participate in an Exchange Camp. By working with younger children who still do not have strong convictions about culture or religion, the hope is that these children will grow into adults who can respect diversity.
Meanwhile, to complement the Invitation Project, there is the Mission Project, which sends Japanese children to various parts of the Asia-Pacific during spring break to provide them with intercultural experiences. Another part of the APCC is the Wing Kids Project, which aims to develop local children into Junior Ambassadors who can serve as representatives of Fukuoka, while taking pride in Japan’s culture and history.
The most recent addition is the Bridge Project, the de facto alumni association for past Junior Ambassadors. Under this project, APCC alumni in the various countries and regions establish regional chapters called Bridge Clubs, and each club undertakes its own activities.
Last but not least, it should be noted that the APCC is supported by local citizens. In addition to the local families who serve as homestay hosts, there is a roster of registered volunteers who assist with the full range of APCC activities. Given the sheer scale of this international exchange program, there is surely a role for you if you are also interested in volunteering.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn223, July 2017)