Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN) The 28th of July 2014 marks the day that a group of nine wide-eyed children that had arrived to the beautiful tropical Island of Penang. The group is made up of students aged 9 to 13 years, who come from various schools in the city of Kitakyushu, Japan.  They are here at Penang YMCA for a 6-days/5-nights GATN experience.  Principal, Mr. Kenichiro Ogawa and staff, Ms Risa Ogata from Kitakyushu YMCA acted as their chaperons for the trip.
The children had a delicious morning breakfast from our in-house YCafé and were ready for their first English class. What made this class unique was the involvement and participation of our local Penang children in the learning and activities of the class. The Japanese children loved the idea and soon they were engaged with the local children in English.  Friendship started to blossom and new bonds were forged. We then brought them around the heritage sites of Georgetown and roaming the streets to view the street art.
The next day, a short orientation was given to the kids - about culture, trades, traditions, religion, celebrations, population and of course the various types of food in Penang. The kids were really excited were quick in learning and grasping the essence of Penang and its rich multicultural environment.
One of the highlights of the programme was the visit to the War Museum at Batu Maung and they also tasted the local Penang fruits.  They enjoyed the rambutan, duku langsat, mangosteen but the fruit that caught their attention was the king of fruits itself, the durian. Other activities include an adventurous hike to the Monkey Beach at Penang National Park, kayaking, a visit to a YMCA deaf club members open-house for Hari Raya celebration and of course, shopping around for unique souvenirs to bring back to Japan.