UNBREAKABLE BOND: Nariko Kanai and Mavis Cooper reunite in Warwick yesterday.
UNBREAKABLE BOND: Nariko Kanai and Mavis Cooper reunite in Warwick yesterday. Sean Teuma

A Japanese exchange student returns after 30 years

THEY say friendships that last more than seven years will last a lifetime.

By this token, Mavis Cooper and Nariko Kanai will continue their bond through the afterlife.

Mrs Kanai returned to Warwick yesterday to visit her friend of 30 years, who she met by chance all those years ago.

After a short stint in Brisbane as an exchange student, Mrs Kanai's connection with the Rose City began.

"I like living in small towns,” Mrs Kanai said.

"When I was a student at Warwick High I studied agriculture, which is something I never thought about in Japan.

"I like the country life.”

But the student was never meant to be in Warwick, with MrsCooper taking her in after she was unhappy in Brisbane.

"Nariko stayed with me in Warwick until they could find another family for her in Brisbane,” Mrs Cooper said.

"I got a letter every day after they did find her one.”

The letters have become symbolic of the friendship the pair have maintained.

"I've kept in contact with Andrew and Scott (MrsCooper's sons) by messenger and Facebook,” Mrs Kanai said.

"I have contacted Mavis through letter. I have sent her a letter for her birthday almost every year.”

Mrs Cooper was a selfless participant in the AFS program, providing housing for students from countries like Sweden and the US, and her daughter Sheridan even studied as part of the program in Sri Lanka.

However the bond she shares with Mrs Kanai has shined brightest.

"Nariko came back to Warwick 20 years ago for Sheridan's wedding,” she said.

"We've been able to learn about different cultures and experience the best of each other's cultures.

"I wanted to do it because I thought it would be hard for students to come here without knowing the language and other people.

"I remember when we were driving to Warwick and Nariko would ask where all the people were.”



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