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Languages Champions


Emma Hopkins – Short Biography

Emma started studying Japanese when she was 14.  She took part in a 3-month exchange to Japan when she was 15 and then went to Japan for a year on a Tokyo Metropolitan Government Scholarship with AFS Australia www.afs.org.au/aus. Upon her return, Emma won the New South Wales Japanese Speaking Competition at High School level.

In 2005 Emma was selected to work at the Australian Pavilion at the World Expo in Japan. Early in 2007 she was part of the Australian delegation for the Ship for World Youth www.swyaustralia.org, a global youth program run by the Japanese Government. Emma completed her fourth and final year of a Bachelor of Japanese Studies/Bachelor of Business Administration in 2007.  She has been involved with the Global Leadership Program at her university and is a member of her local council Sister City Committee.

Emma Hopkins – Quotes

I started learning Japanese in Year 8 at High School and continued learning it as an elective in further years. Studying Japanese has been a stepping-stone to many more rewarding experiences and opportunities in my life and because of this, one of the best decisions I ever made. In 2001 I became an AFS exchange student www.afs.org.au/aus, living with a host family and attending a Japanese High School for a year. Being totally immersed in another culture and language was an amazing experience, where I learnt more than I can comprehend. Upon returning to Australia, my Japanese was nearly fluent and I performed well with it in my final school exams.

Since finishing High School, I am continuing my Japanese studies at university. In 2005 I was hired to work at the World Expo in Japan, welcoming 3 million visitors to our Australian Pavilion. It was an exciting and challenging job and I had this opportunity through learning Japanese at school. In 2007 I was selected for the Ship for World Youth www.swyaustralia.org. This is an international youth program that brings together 250 young people from all around the world to foster inter-cultural friendships and international ties. My language skills were not only instrumental in me gaining a place on the Australian delegation but also in helping me to make friends quickly. The program was absolutely amazing! Surrounded by many different cultures, my days were spent with Chilean poets, Yemeni human rights activists and Fijians with voices like angels. I learnt so much about the other participants and myself. As well, my boundaries and understandings of the world were challenged every day.

It never ceases to amaze me how small the world is! Knowing another language has opened the door to many amazing experiences and opportunities for me. The work and travel possibilities with a language are fantastic and you have the chance to make many amazing friends from all over the world. Through knowing Japanese and my AFS exchange experience www.afs.org.au/aus, the lessons I've learnt, the friends I have made and the borders I have gone beyond will enrich the rest of my life. Learning Japanese was a small decision I made when I was just 14, however it is one that continues to shape and guide my life in a remarkable way, even 10 years later!

One can't underestimate the joy of being able to communicate with someone in their own language and the opportunities for a world of new friends and experiences. Learning a language can be challenging, but the rewards are definitely worth it. After 10 years of learning Japanese and nearly 2 years of living in Japan, I have started learning Spanish. The temptation of communicating with new friends and new travel opportunities was too much.