Attending (15): Bill Dowd, Terry Brewer, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, April Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Jim Butterworth, Debbie Rodriguez, Charlie Foote, Ray Hannan, Len Leonidas, Rommel Tolentino, Stewart Wagner.
Guests (3): Hans Albanese, Lorenzo Murray of the Capital Region Rotary Club, Kayden Leonidas.
Program: An American Teacher in Japan
Len Leonidas introduced the speaker, Hans Albanese, his brother-in-law.
Hans spent the past 20 years in Japan, working and teaching there and developing a language curriculum for one high school. He was in charge of several other teachers in the program. He and his family recently moved to the area, and are temporarily living with Len and Jan as they get re-settled.
Hans said his interest in living abroad stemmed, at least in part, from being a Rotary Exchange Student in India. While teaching in Japan, he also was responsible for a sister-school program with an Australian school.
He described the Japanese school system, which resembles the American system although with a slightly longer year. School begins with preschool and kindergarten (1 to 3 years of attendance); required education stops at ninth grade. High school (grades 10-12) is not mandatory, but about 90% of children do go on after passing a rigorous entrance exam.
Hans showed photos of several schools, including middle schools and high schools. He said some schools require uniforms, but each is different. Slides also included the school his son and daughter children attended.
He said school-sponsored clubs are very popular among students, and sometimes get more attention from them than their studies do. He said that university study is somewhat the opposite of our system: i.e., here it is comparatively easy to get into college but difficult to complete, while in Japan it is difficult to gain entrance and easy to coast through to graduation. He said he feels this has resulted in declining school reputations.
Tradition is very important in Japan. Hans spoke about how this affected the schools and how discipline is maintained. Ganbaru, the Japanese word for “diligence” or hard work, is an important rule students are expected to adhere to in elementary, junior and high schools. Most kids join groups, clubs and/or sports in their schools and teachers are expected to work with at least one club or sport. This can mean a long day and a school week that is seven days long. Students also are required to take turns with cleaning chores of their schools; there are no custodians and professional cleaners visit each school about twice a year.
“Cram schools” are popular and prepare students for high school and university entrance exams which are difficult. Hans created the curriculum for his high school and hired his replacement to maintain the program’s level of quality.
MEETING VENUE CHANGE — President Bill reminded the club that the November 20 meeting will be held at Burden Lake Country Club. Shannon Romanowski will be inducted as our newest Rotarian. We also will be given a demonstration of the club’s golf simulators which we will be using for three simulator golf tournament fundraisers this winter. Bill said we’ll have a choice of entrees that night, but we will use the usual RSVP process for making reservations. Need directions? Go to the country club website.
HOLIDAY PARTY & BASKET AUCTION: Murray Forth said he and Maggie will host the annual Holiday Party & Basket Auction on Thursday, December 18. The club expresses its joint thanks to the Forths for once again playing host to our horde of revelers.
ROSE PARADE FLOAT — A reminder that funds are being solicited for the Rotary International Rose Parade float on New Year’s Day. This is a good public relations effort, and any amount is welcome. Simply go to the Float Committee website.
SHELTER BOX UPDATE — We have a first-person report posted on our website updating us on the status of the Philippines a year after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. … Bill displayed the “Supporting Club” pennant (right) given to our club by the Shelter Box organization during the recent “Rotary Day at the United Nations” event for our strong financial support of the program.
POCKET CHANGE FOR … — Bill reminded everyone to keep supporting our “Pocket Change for …” fundraiser, this year for The Great American Milk Drive. He said for the benefit of anyone who has not viewed the video and text on our website about the Drive that he has updated it and moved it higher on the postings.
ADOPT A FAMILY — The club’s Board decided to award Circles of Mercy an $800 grant to “adopt” two families for the holidays. The money will be used to purchase modest gifts for several families of four.
FOUNDATION DINNER — Five club members and a special guest will be attending the Rotary Foundation dinner on Friday at Proctors theater — Bill and April Dowd, Peter and Debbie Brown and Murray and Maggie Forth. Bill, the Forths and Jim Leyhane all are on the event’s Honorary Committee.
ANNIVERSARY DINNER — Event coordinator Debbie Brown announced that our club’s 55th anniversary dinner has been scheduled for Thursday, March 5, 2015, at the Comfort Inn. It will be catered by Talk of the Town. More details to come. Debbie, April and Ray Hannan are the planning committee.
ROTARY HOME COOKING SERIES — Event coordinator Terry Brewer reported that the first dinner, a German sauerbraten feast hosted by the Forths, was a success. (Murray said $340 was raised for the club treasury.) Terry asked members to please check the website to see how many seats remain for each of the upcoming dinners and to contact either him or the hosts to reserve their places. The next dinner will be a New Orleans themed event at the Browns’ residence on Saturday, January 10.