Rotary Club of Kauai
The Rotary Club is a world-wide organization. They perform many functions throughout the world that are worthy of lots of praise, but that is not the point of this acknowledgement.
We are not members of the Rotary Club. We observe them, on occasion at the local level, usually when they are out selling Christmas trees every year to raise money for their causes. They appear to be a good group of people, which we are sure most of them are. However, that is also not the point of this acknowledgement.
Our Acknowledgement is in the local Chapter's Exchange Program of High School students from the island of Kauai for those students located in Moriyama, Japan. According to the Kauai Rotary Club, the city of Moriyama, Japan is Kauai's sister-city, even though Kauai is an Island ...... and to the Moriyama Rotary Club it is the same feeling. This sister-city concept began around 1977 when two high school students and one teacher from Moriyama visited Kauai for about five days at a time. This took place once a year for about five years. Over that time period contacts were made and in 1982 the Rotary Groups implemented longer stays for the students, being for most of the school year. Every year each of these two Rotary Groups have high school students apply for the 'Exchange Program'. These students must qualify via whatever rules that have been determined and in the end one or two students (from each location, Kauai and Moriyama) are awarded the right and privilege to go to the other's location as an exchange student. It is a total immersion program in that the students may have taken some language classes to prepare them for this adventure, but they are usually not capable of speaking or writing the language for the country where they are headed. Homes have been located in each other's area to house these students and they will end up staying at two to three different homes during the school year that are involved in the exchange program (usually it is in their 11th grade school year). In most of the homes where these students stay, the families do not speak the exchange student's language either. There is a major communication problem. Do not worry, this is usually overcome by the use of hand gestures until slowly all of the parties learn how to communicate fairly well after a little time has passed.
Many times the parents of the students will fly over to check on how their child is doing. There is lots of exchanging of gifts and a great hospitality is afforded the visiting parents. There is a cultural exchange that takes place too. It is a very interesting phenomenon. There is a togetherness and sharing of goodwill that is conveyed between the parents and all of the children involved. There is a harmony that takes place and everyone has a new understanding of different ways of life and of the different cultures. For the first few months of their exchange the students have the deepest desire to return home to go back to their normal ways. By the end of their exchange they do not want to return home, as they have adopted their new ways and enjoy their new surroundings. It is not one sided. This happens to the ones that come to Hawaii and also to those that go to Japan. In the end, they all do go home, but many return later in life to renew old acquaintances. Many times they stay in touch throughout the years. Whether they do stay in touch, or not, each student has learned a great deal about the world as a whole and comes away with a better perspective and a more worldly understanding of life as it exists in other places. They probably go on in life as a more fulfilled and caring individual. As you are surely aware, we can use more kids like that on this planet.
As in any program like this, there are a few people that 'made-things-happen'. Without these strategic people, the initiative would have died. An honorable mention must go out to Mr. Morita in Moriyama as he initiated the beginning five-day stays on Kauai. The 'Exchange Program' could not have happened without the help of Chuck Malley and Walter Haas on Kauai and Tsugio Kawashima from Moriyama. Since that time, many have been involved but Mr. Kawashima has been the 'Shining Star'. He has stayed with the program all of these years and still oversees it. He was the first host parent in Japan and was so impressed by the benefits achieved, he dedicated himself to its continuation. He has spent tremendous amounts of time and very large amounts of his own money to make this program a success. As of the end of 1999, there have been 30 students from Kauai that have spent a school year in Moriyama, Japan ... and there have been 33 students from Japan that have done the same on Kauai. All of these students are winners in more ways than one, but the real winners are the American and Japanese societies. These students go out into the world and influence many people within their respective country with the values that they have learned from this program. They really help to make this world a little better place to live.
If you have an opportunity to get involved in an exchange program for students from any foreign country, please do so. There are many ways to support these functions. Your involvement can be extensive to minimal. It will be worth whatever effort you put into it. Go out and find out how. They are not all run by your local Rotary Clubs, but that is a good place to start.
Mahalo (Thank You) to the Rotary Clubs that are involved in these Exchange Programs and for all of their involvement in other great functions like these.
All girls except for 6 boys from Kauai and 7 boys from Japan as of '99
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