Perhaps the best Japanese Exchange Program ever was enjoyed by all.  The six kids from Japan were most gracious, each one thanking us for making it possible for them to visit the US of A.  But the stars of the show were our own five - and note that they comprised HALF of the entire group who went to Japan. We even have PHOTOS!  Before we get to them, some housekeeping notes, OK?

CATHY REZOS led the Pledge, preceding it by reminding us that if we didn't approve of "Under God" we could substitute "Under Canada and Above Mexico".  I listened quite carefully, but that phraseology didn't appear in our chorus- we're really all status-quoers!  LENNY FRIEDMAN and GREG ELLIOTT took us through America.  RALPH BEASOM came forward for the Invocation, which was both brief and well done.

Prexy TED informed us, early on, that TODAY was the 25th Anniversary for PP CHRIS GAYNOR and Rose, which cost CHRIS 25 bucks. This figure of 25 years was later corrected by CHRIS, hisself - the correct number being a mere 21. SALLY BRANT then announced a joint meeting with LA 5.  For as long as most of us can remember, they have had a great gathering of fans the Friday before the SC-UCLA football game - and this year, WVRC has been invited to Co-Host this fun event.  Both bands will be there, all the brass, the cheerleaders - even some of the players - and the coaches give us the scoop as to what to expect the next day.  I attended this event once before, as a guest of Joe Mulryan, husband of our LENORE, and I should mention that LA 5 seems to have a preponderance of SC supporters - so here's our chance to even things up!  We will be dark on our regular Thursday meeting, but will join them downtown the next day, Friday the 21st.  SAVE THE DATE, OK?

DENNIS CORNWELL was willing, but unable, to introduce any Visiting Rotarians, since we didn't got none.  However, there were lots of guests.  HANK HEUER invited who helped with the Japanese students by leading them on a UCLA tour earlier today.  PP RON LYSTER had almost his whole family - his mother, Carlene, wife Guin, son Marty and daughter Cindy.  PP CHRIS GAYNOR brought Rose, plus Nicole and their houseguest, Mika Iimura.  BRUCE ROLF was with Marie, plus their grandson, Max Stefan, who is 14. PP BOB WESSLING had a Special Guest, Skip Tisherman.  PDG ANDY ANDERSON was with Pat and their granddaughter, Beth.  JOE FISCHER introduced Kikue Takayama, and STEW GILMAN did the same for Toyo Suyama.  I was pleased to bring Neal Hickerson, who is married to Joy's stepdaughter, Ellen.  They live in Oklahoma City, and have their six-year-old, Alex - he's a pistol!  Eleanor MORE was proud to be there with her grandson, Taylor - who was still in Japan when DAVE passed away so recently.  PETER MORE was with Shirley.  PP HOWIE HENKES introduced our newest member, BRIAN BUMPAS, who was sponsored by PP DOUG DESCH.  BRIAN was with the LA Times, and since retiring has become the volunteer contact person for all Hamilton High School alumni.

Bravely adhering to his self-imposed limit of just ONE announcement per meeting  (Good for you, TED) Prexy TED told of the Celebrate Literacy Breakfast, which will be at Lawry's on Friday the 16th of August - starting at 0800, and ending by 0915.  It's FREE - but please call Earle Vaughan at (323) 463-5118 to make your reservation.  And TED did tell us he won't be present next week (this announcement greeted by applause, as you would expect) so the meeting will be chaired by president-elect PETER MORE.

HANK HEUER began the program with an overview of the plan.  First up was MARK BLOCK, who asked Cindy LYSTER to introduce the video showing our kids in Japan. After that, Cindy thanked PETER MORE for his help with the video, and WVRC for sending her to Japan.  Note that her brother, Marty, had the same trip a couple of years ago.  She kept so many notes that they filled two journals.  Cindy particularly noted the cultural differences, plus how our appliances and theirs differ from each other.  She very strongly recommends the trip, and urges us to continue the program.

At this point, Prexy TED told everyone that it was Narumi Fujinuma's 15th birthday, and we serenaded her with the usual Happy Birthday song.  Beth Jacob, from the Anderson family, was up next.  She thanked us for sending her, and found many things that were totally unexpected. Beth loved the different culture, and reminded us all that Japan is a beautiful country.  Nicole GAYNOR confessed that she didn't like anyone at the beginning of the trip - and now loves them all!  She thanked WVRC for the opportunity, and probably will be a salesman for her younger brother, Scott, who will be eligible soon.

Taylor MORE found there were many similarities between our two countries.  He would like the Japanese students to stay at his house, and he, too, thanked us for sending him.

Last but not least, Ashley GREATHEAD started her report in JAPANESE!  Fortunately for most of us, she soon switched back to English.  She was impressed by the Hiroshima Memorial, and found all the Japanese to be very helpful during her visit.  Ashley specifically noted her appreciation to Grandfather JIM, whose membership enabled her to join the group.

YOE will now modestly admit to being an expert on how the Japanese Student Exchange works - this based on my daughter, Andrea taking the trip THIRTY FIVE years ago, plus step daughter Jennifer Bennett being there more recently. Please note that this is the one benefit that relatives of Rotarians can participate in - all our other programs would invalidate our tax exemption as a 50l(c) 3-charity status.  Applicants are interviewed by a District-wide Committee in the spring before their summer visit - they must be between 16 and 20 years old.  (As an aside, my daughter was asked, "Andrea, you're very tall. Most Japanese are shorter than you - would that bother you?  Her reply, "I've been tall for a long time".)  After being selected, the students attend a number of orientation sessions, usually run by our own PP YOSH SETOGUCHI. They learn about Japan, and even write a speech in Japanese, which they memorize for presentation on their club visits while there. Clubs vary in how they help to pay for the trip - at WVRC, we pick up half the tab!  Truly, it's a winner all the way, and those of you with soon-to-be eligible relatives should definitely plan on applying.

The six visitors then spoke briefly.  Their leader is Kikue Takayama - she is 20, and asks our indulgence in helping them with their English. She is loving her time here, and thanked us for making it possible.  Yukari Handa was next - she is 16, enjoys piano and cooking, and wanted to come so she could learn from those Americans she will meet on the trip.  Her father graduated from college in the USA.  Narumi Fujinuma is 15, and there are six in her family, including her grandmother, parents and two brothers.  She enjoys reading, movies, and astronomy, worries about her English, and is very pleased to be here.  Mika Iimura is 17, an 11th grader - her school has 1000 students - and lives close to Tokyo.  She enjoys world history, and wants to help those suffering from poverty. Her father is an electrical contractor, and her older brother is at the University.  She is really excited to be here. Toyo Suyama is 19, lives in Yokohama City where his father is in the insurance business.  He has a sister, and thanked us for sponsoring the program.  Kenichi Kakinuma is also 19, and commutes an hour to college where he is studying statistics and marketing.  He likes music. They concluded their remarks by singing "West Virginia" - in English, yet!  A great group, all.

We'll now attempt photos, which should be of Eleanor MORE and Taylor, Beth Jacob, the GAYNOR family, Ashley GREATHEAD, and Cindy LYSTER - hope this works.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe