Terry Crotty leads a much busier life than many. Not only has he raised two children of his own, but he and his wife Veronica have welcomed many more into his home from Japan as exchange students. He’s been a director of the Australia-Japan Society of NSW for seven years and deserves a medal for being Secretary for last five years.
“My involvement with Japan goes quite a way back: fifteen or sixteen years. Our family – my wife and I and the two boys – first decided to go to Japan because we loved Disneyland. We heard that there was a nice Disneyland there, but all our friends said, ‘oh, you don't want to go there. It's too hard to get around, they don't speak English.’ We decided to go anyway, ‘cause we're pretty independent travellers. So we went to Tokyo, we saw a baseball game, went to Hiroshima. We went to Disneyland, of course. And we loved it. So we’ve been back – not every year, but probably most years since then. And that was our first introduction to Japan.
When we got back, we thought ‘this place was really lovely’. And the next year, there was the World Expo in Nagoya so we went back and did Nagoya and Kyūshū, and travelled all around Kyūshū and did a bit of the snow as well. When we came back from that, we thought ‘let's learn a bit of the language, because we might keep going back’. So Veronica, my wife, and I enrolled in the basic qualification at Granville TAFE. I moved on to a Japanese language basic course at the Japan Foundation. At the back of the classroom one day was a brochure for Sumo tournament viewing, which we thought we might enjoy. So we went along, met a former Australia-Japan Society of NSW (AJS) board member Ian Stewart, who introduced us to the AJS and signed us up. And we've been part of the society ever since.
Once I got on the AJS-NSW Board, Veronica decided she wanted to do something Japanese as well. So she joined the Campbelltown-Koshigaya Sister City Association. She took her own independent relationship with Japan a step further. And she's now the secretary of that Sister Cities Association. She takes groups of students over to that area in Japan each year and then we host students who come here.
One of the beauties of the AJS is that you can get that feeling of Japan by engaging with Japanese folks and those with an interest in Japan right here in Sydney, which is great because for many people a trip to Japan might be a long way off, but you can get that initial association by being involved with a group.
The highlight [of being part of the greater Japanese community in NSW] is that it provides a depth of exposure and understanding for myself and Veronica that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise. I think too many Australians don't take that opportunity to involve themselves in another culture. They don’t get the benefits of seeing the differences between two cultures. It can be quite enlightening and rewarding. And so, we've gotten a great deal out of being associated with Japan, both business-wise, socially, and culturally.
We hope that our association with Japan will continue for many more years. Veronica’s quite keen to take more groups and we're keen to host students until we can do it no more. So we're eager to keep that active for many, many years and obviously to tell our friends to get involved as well!