LOCALS have enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to Japan via the The Girls Academy, which is Australia's leading in-school mentoring program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youngsters.
Between April 14 and 21, the pupils visited sites of great historical and cultural significance such as Kyoto and Hiroshima, as well as the head office of academy supporter Idemitsu Kosan, who provided the travel opportunity, and Tokyo Disneyland.
It was an incredibly enjoyable experience for the three Muswellbrook High School girls who were able to attend, along with two academy members from Gunnedah, and some of them were able to take time to comment about their favourite parts and what impact the trip had on them.
"The people were really nice, Japan was really well organised and clean," Darbi Cox said.
"I would really like to thank Idemitsu for the amazing opportunity to go to a different country and explore.
"This experience has made me want to change my career plans."
Fellow pupil Janarli Northey also took a lot away from the visit, and revealed the way she had been hypnotised by the beauty of the scenery.
"I have never been on a plane before so this was an amazing chance to see another country," she said.
"My favourite part of Japan was seeing the cherry blossoms and the temples."
It's just another motivation for people to sign up to The Girls Academy, which operates across 13 sites in NSW including Muswellbrook, Gunnedah, Coonamble, Dubbo, Kempsey, Melville, Narromine, Orange, Tamworth and Singleton.
Last year, those involved with the program had a school attendance rate almost five per cent higher than the average for indigenous students in the state.
Locally, that figure was even better at nine per cent, as Muswellbrook's indigenous pupils showed their passion for education and laying solid groundwork for their future.
This was a hugely beneficial episode for the travellers and their motivation and ambition will, hopefully, become extremely beneficial to the community and beyond in the coming years.