Upcoming Programs Calendar...
May 24 - Yoshiko Umezawa - Doctoral candidate at UCLA and 2001 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar
A Challenging Cultural Exchange, at WVRC on May 10th
We began with the Pledge, led by DON PARK. America The Beautiful was next, led by LENNY FIREDMAN. One of our newer members, JOHN WOODALL, provided a brief Invocation. Before he began, he reminded us that “there are just three days left” until Mother’s Day and the flowers and/or cards are important! “Éternal God, you have gifted us with Community a place where we can truly learn to be our best selves, a place where we best find our purpose and meaning in life. We thank you, God, for the memories of those who loved and nurtured us, making us the people we are today. We ask that you might bless our lives, so that we may reflect the love we have received, growing in relationship with You and with one another. May the bounty of the table nourish us, so that we might bring hope and love to the world. We pray in your name”.
Thank you, JOHN - you guys ‘of the cloth’ do express our thoughts so very well.We had Mitch Kraus as our Visiting Rotarian today he has visited before, is from the Santa Monica Club, and is in Financial Planning. PP STEVE SCHERER introduced his guest, Steve Re, whose daughter just graduated from that other school across town. Apparently that’s where her Dad went also he works with the firm of SCHERER, BRADFORD and LYSTER. CHRIS BRADFORD came forward with an announcement about the upcoming District Assembly. It is set for the morning of Saturday, May 19th, and CHRIS has probably already reached incoming officers and new members about how valuable these educational meetings will be. It starts at 0730 at the Carson Community Center, so please reserve with CHRIS if you haven’t already done so.
At this point we had a lovely surprise who came in but JANICE and GEORGE DEA? They are getting settled in Emeryville, and everyone was delighted to say hello. On a personal note, DICK ROBINSON is set for some minor surgery next Wednesday. As you may know, ROZ NELSON slipped and fell last Friday, and they are awaiting tests before her treatment will be decided upon. And one more news item our former member, KEN LEVER, has had some disturbing news about his health. You can probably reach KEN at 24711 Via Modera, Calabasas 91302, (818) 222-6935, or email@example.com.
Whoops another Mea Culpa: I’m going to impose on my editorial privileges, since I have a message that needs to be broadcast. There is an older lady on my Meals on Wheels route, and she is starting to look for someone who needs housing in the Brentwood area. This would be a small suite in her home, and she thinks a mature person, probably a man, could stay there on a permanent basis. I have met this woman, and we have talked several times she doesn’t need care, but would feel safer, really, if someone else were also living in her house. She would like to charge some small rent, but that isn’t really pressing. I guess I have become the contact person, so if you know anyone who might be interested and available, please have them call me.
Getting back to today, PP STEVE DAY was pleased to introduce a new Paul Harris Fellow. PP STEVE noted that this status is achieved by the payment of $1,000 to the R.I. Foundation, which first earns interest for three years, and then may be used to fund our wide-ranging field of humanitarian, educational and charitable activities. There include our almost one thousand annual Ambassadorial Scholarships, our continuing fight to eliminate polio worldwide, plus the many, many joint projects in partnership with Rotarians all over the world. Truly, the money is well spent. The recipient of today’s Fellowship is SHERRY DEWANE Congratulations! This award was well applauded.
As a final note, it was announced that KATIA VAISBERG has been elected as the new Rotaract President Congratulations, KATIA!
There were two jokes. A man was strolling through the countryside, and he came to a stable there was the most beautiful horse he had ever laid eyes on. He found the owner was willing to sell, and during the negotiations the former owner told the new owner that they were a very religious family. As a result, when they wanted the horse to gallop, the exact phrase to be used was “Thanks, God”. To get him to stop, you must say “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”. Having this information, our buyer leaped aboard, said, “Thanks, God” and they took off for a several-miles gallop. However, as they were approaching the end of the trail, the new owner couldn’t remember what the Stop command was. It came to him just two feet from the edge of the cliff, and he shouted, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”, and the horse stopped immediately. The greatly relieved new owner pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket, wiped his brow, and said, “Thanks, God”.
Yet there was a second story, the prospect of which was greeted with some overt signs of disapproval from the captive audience. Two ninety-year old men were discussing their favorite sport, baseball. Not only were they old friends, but they had played minor league ball together for several years. One said to the other, “You know, I’m sure you will get to heaven. You’ve got to let me know if there is baseball in heaven”. His friend replied immediately, “Of course, I’ll let you know, somehow”. A couple of months later, the younger man was awakened by a blinding flash of light. A voice called out to him.
“Who’s this?” he asked. “It’s me I told you I’d call. I’ve got good news and a little bit of bad news” “Tell me the good news” “Well, you were right. There is baseball in heaven and all our old friends are out there playing. As a matter of fact, we’re having a game this afternoon”. “What’s the bad news?” “You’re pitching”.
ED GAULD was pleased to introduce out speaker, Ilan Migdali. His subject is Project Triumph, which is a program that brings 20 teenager Israelis and Arabs to LA for two weeks of getting to know each other. Ilan, who was born in Israel, came to the US in 1982, and got his degree in holistic medicine in 1988. His specialty is acupuncture, and he belongs to the Rotary Club of Newbury Park, which he joined in 2002. He is married, has two children, and lives in Newbury Park. Ilan travels to Israel twice a year to teach acupuncture, and he is writing a book. He also enjoys playing racquetball, and bicycling in the nearby hills with his dog, Buffy.
This is the second year of Project Triumph, and they brought kids from Haifa. These boys are all in the 11th grade, and remember that all the Israelis and some of the Arabs serve three years in the army as soon as they graduate from high school. The one condition that all must meet is fluency in English, since they go to separate schools and study in their own language. Ilan began his presentation with a video which was made last year, when they had just sixteen kids. It was an excellent video, showing the students both in class and interacting together. Ilan was one of the instructors, and the other man was an academic who specialized in psychology. Note that for ALL the students, this was their first time in interacting with those of another race there is definite segregation even though all the students live in the same city. It has to be a major learning experience. Many of the students were interviewed in the video, of course.
This is envisioned as a ten-year program, so they have eight years to go. Bringing them here cost $60,000 - $3,000 per student, and all the money has been raised from nearby Rotary Clubs. They live here in a Jewish Retreat Center in the Simi Valley, which has excellent physical facilities. As relationships begin to develop, they are exposed to cooperative ventures helping each other climb walls, or rocks, for instance. And after the ten years, they will have several hundred people who have learned about ‘the other side’ but it’s a slow process, by definition. Their first year they had five Rotary Clubs as sponsors this year they are up to nine. Ilan would like our Board of Directors to consider joining as sponsors and the more money they have, the more students they can handle, of course. As you watch the students develop relationships, it becomes quite compelling.
Q&A. Prexy MIKE, What are the criteria for being selected? First, they must speak English, and second, be recommended by their high school principals. They are seeking students with leadership skills. KEVIN BADKOUBEHI, what was the original purpose? Interaction between the students, but they did not have enough support from Rotary Clubs in Israel. As with anything new, they expected the first two or three years to be devoted to learn how to effectively carry out their objective. The students meet for the first time six months before they come to the U.S. Eighty students were nominated, and twenty were selected. One quote I’ve been living in Haifa for fifteen years, and I never spoke to an Arab! MARK BLOCK, What are these kids doing now? They are willing to learn, and we work at teaching them. They divided into four teams of five students each, and began playing integrated games a first for all of them. They undertook renovation of some athletic facilities. One group ran a summer camp for low-income kids, and the last group devoted themselves to fundraising. DONN CONNER, Do they stay in touch afterward? Yes, and particularly they contact each other by computer. Not all continue they expect about fourteen of the twenty this year to stay in touch. ED GAULD, Are all the students from Haifa? Yes, but from different high schools. The second language in Israel is English, for both Israelis and Arabs. PDG ANDY ANDERSON, Have you applied for a matching grant from R.I.? Yes, but we were turned down. It was ruled an Educational program, and not a Humanitarian one. For next year, they will approach the Jewish Alliance here in LA for funds. They have found that they should be asking for more financial help from Israel, and from the students themselves. ELLIOTT TURNER, Do these kids take risks in joining the program? Not in Haifa, at least this doesn’t seem to be a serious problem. I asked the last question, Does everyone serve in the Army, or just the Israelis? All Israelis serve, but only a few Arabs.
Ilan Migdali, thanks for bringing us this challenging idea that you are developing.
YOE, Ernie Wolfe