CARINE ALLAF at WVRC on June 3rd
SHERRY DEWANE led the Pledge. PDG BILL GOODWYN provided the Invocation. As I’ve sometimes done before, I’ll slightly condense the first part, so I can quote the entire listing of seniors. Samuel Ullman wrote, “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. It’s not age that matters. It’s values…vision… mission and passionate persistence.” Job 12:12 “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” I’m always impressed by the display of wisdom at one of our meetings - wisdom defined as knowing what to do with knowledge which is acquired through age and experience. But we know there’s a price to pay for achieving - weariness, questions, sore muscles, occasional depression. Here’s some history: Ronald Reagan took the oath of office a few days before his 70th birthday. Deng Xiaoping at 75 began his monumental leadership role. Benjamin Franklin, Ambassador to France at 83. Golda Meir leading Israel at 76. Immanuel Kant wrote some of his greatest when he was past 70. Cornelius Vanderbilt built railroads when well over 70. Johann Goethe wrote the second part of Faust after he was 80. Victor Hugo astounded with writing after he was 80. Alfred Lord Tennyson was 83 when he wrote “Crossing the Bar”. William Gladstone was 83 as Prime Minister. Bismarck was running the German Empire at 74. Christy was Premier of Italy at 75. Verdi wrote operas after he was 80. Edwin Gauld into his 70’s survived a year as Rotary Club President. The survival of the Club is still in question (you knew I couldn’t leave this line out!) Michelangelo was producing sculpture at 89. Monet was painting after he was 85. Onward and Upward, Amen. BILL, all I can say is WOW! And yet again, LENNY came forward to learn what his latest role might be. Apparently, since he sometimes carries precious jewels, he wanted to wear something that would make him inconspicuous, and Prexy ED came up with a spiked helmet that would, anyway, scare you away. LENNY recovered enough to lead us in God Bless America.
We had no Visiting Rotarians, but there were lots of visitors. CAROL COLLINS was there, perhaps as a substitute for PP JIM, PDG ANDY ANDERSON brought PAT, PP MIKE NEWMAN came with ANGELE, and of course SUNNY was with LENNY. New member TERRY DE SOUSA was there, as was MASAKI NAKODA. KENCY NITTLER from Rotaract was present. Those at the Head Table included PP BOB WESSLING, PDG BILL GOODWYN, SHERRY DEWANE, plus STEVE PETTISE and our Speaker, Carine Allaf. Mr. WESSLING, with a nod from Prexy ED, explained how some recent grads from DePauw were being recognized as excellent head coaches in the roundball sport of basketball. The coach at Clemson is Brad Brownell, class of ’91. And at Butler, which you may have heard of recently, Brad Stevens, ’99, came within 3 points of winning the NCAA this year! Bob, you gotta be careful when you let the students play…
KENCY NITTLER provided an update on Rotaract, since she is retiring as President.
Their membership has grown tremendously, and they have been very active in fundraising for a number of projects. The list includes over $600 for PolioPlus, $1500 for Pediatric Nursing, and $800 for the Red Cross for use in Haiti. They participated in several cleanups, both in the Village and the Salvation Army. You will recall that five of their members went to Ecuador and reported on the visit at a recent meeting. They had a number of social events, and welcomed international students. It was certainly a great year, and KENCY thanked us for our support. Editorial she has done a tremendous job, and we should look forward to strong involvement again next year. When you see kids like this, you have to know that the ‘system’ is producing winners!
PP STEVE DAY came forward as the Chair of the Rotarian of the Year Committee, since he was honored five years ago and these past Rotarians select the current honoree. As you may recall, this is a bit of a game, since the Chair starts identifying the honoree without providing a name. This year, the person joined Rotary in 1977, and has over 20 years of perfect attendance. He is a Paul Harris Fellow, a Benefactor, and a John Sandman Fellow. Married to Sally, he has made five family members PHFs. He has 3 children, 4 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. He was born Dec. 18th in Brawley, and served during WWII in the Navy, piloting an amphibious craft in the landings at Normandy. His degree is from UCLA, with a law degree from Southwest. He started as a bank trust officer, but has practiced law in WW Village with his son for many years. He was WVRC Club President in 1998-99, motto being “Hang Loose”. PP STEVE felt he was very helpful with advice during his own Presidency. He is active in the club, serving on the Endowment Fund, and Trustee of the Virginia Gandy Charitable Trust, which has made many WVRC members and their family members PHFs . He has hosted many club and District level gatherings at his home, plus GSE, Rotary Scholars and Japanese Youth exchange members. And, he is NOT his son’s sponsor that honor went to DON HANDY. So by now, no surprise The Westwood Village Rotary Club’s Rotarians of the Year is PP HOMER B. NEWMAN! Needless to say, this announcement was greeted with a standing ovation.
There were announcements; Actually, Prexy ED began by explaining why WVRC is an award-winning Club: At the recent District Conference, we got NINETEEN AWARDS 11 for excellence and 8 for achievement. Good job, guys. The Demotion Party will be Saturday, June 26th at the Beach Club. Prexy ED has made a wonderful offer to those who show up early they can join him in a swim to Catalina…Our Auxiliary Installation of Officers will be this coming Tuesday, June 8th which is also Election Day It will be at the home of Sally Brandt, and Incoming President GORDON FELL will discuss his coming Rotary year. MARGIE DOWNIE is the contact. On June 13th, the UCLA Chapter of Engineers Without Borders will take a group to Guatemala, to build water retention devices. MARK ROGO is going, and more are welcome.
Prexy ED introduced our Speaker, Carine Allaf. She is a returning Ambassadorial Scholar who we sponsored last year. Carine has now received her PhD in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, specializing in International Comparative Education. Her dissertation examined women’s higher education rates in Jordan, which is where she spent her Scholar year. When her year was complete, she spent six months working with Save The Children in Iraq. Carine is from Lebanon, and grew up in Kuwait. She is the youngest of four children, and enjoys being outdoors, especially running.
Carine was born in Lebanon, and attended the American School there. They moved to Kuwait, and left just before it was invaded by Iraq, to come to America. They are all naturalized American citizens now. Applause here. She received her BA from Lehigh, and her Masters form Teachers College at Columbia. She next taught a year in Philadelphia at a Charter School, and then returned to Lebanon for three years. She came back to UCLA in 2006. She also spent time in Jordan, where the two most famous tourist areas are Petra and the Dead Sea. The Capital city is Amman, and it has a blend of architecture, modern and quite old. One of her pictures showed a large amphiheatre, right in the center of Amman. About 40 minutes away is Jerash,(and speaking personally, I think it is the best preserved ruin in the Middle East). For instance, Jerash showed how the crown of the arched ceiling provides the final link in the entire structure. She studied at Yongking (sp) University, which is the 2nd largest University in Jordan. While Jerash is about an hour away, she chose to live there, rather than in the small town where the University is located. This is the pattern for all the ‘natives’ with only foreign students living nearby. While the school is mixed, there is still separation the women’s cafeteria is separate from the men’s, for instance. While in Jordan, she was able to visit all eleven Universities, of which only two are private.
All the Rotary Clubs meet in Amman, but they take names of other places. Her Club was named foe Petra, which is a wonderful, once hidden, place to visit and explore. Her counselor in Jordan was a wonderful woman who was very helpful and provided the bridge she sometimes needed. The clubs in Jordan are similar to Rotary here, and Rotaract is very active. They had a lot of refugees from Iraq, and she worked with them. English is taught at different levels in Iraq and Jordan, so catching up was often necessary. There was discrimination between Jordanians and Iraqis, of course. While the language is the same, the accents are very different, so you can tell if someone is from Iraq right away.
Before she went to Iraq, there was concern about her personal safety. However, once it was expected that she would be in the north of the country, her parents felt that was safe and thus OK. Once she arrived, she ended up spending three months in the north, and three in the south. The two areas are much different the north is mountainous and rugged, while the south is more of a true desert. Some of the refugees speak Kurdish, which is not common in Jordan. However, the signs are in Arabic, Kurdish and English! The schools are all double, or triple-shifted that is they operate for more than one group of students all year long. This means some students are attending school from 7 to 11 pm, for instance. And of course the numbers of students are almost overwhelming she noted that the bathrooms, for instance, were really terrible. There is trash everywhere. So you ask, why don’t they clean it up? Because just existing takes all their time trash is a minor problem, relatively.
After her tour in the north, she went south. The immediate difference was that it was always hot! The nights can be quite cold, however. Carine never felt personally unsafe, but there was always the possibility that you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the south, she always wore a scarf - and was unable to speak Arabic, since her accent was wrong. At one of her stops, the water pipe ended short of the school, so they had no water, which creates all kinds of health problems. Looking back, she is thankful that she went to Jordan, since it was a major learning experience. And she thanked us for the wonderful opportunity, of course.
Q&A What does Save The Children do? They work at developing the infrastructure in a given area thus they concentrate on safe water, women’s rights, sanitation and health. They also try to help with education. How large is Jordan, and what is the ethnic mix? The population is about six million, with 2% being Christian. Christians are well-accepted. Lebanon, for instance, is much less conservative wearing a head scarf isn’t necessary. She could not go out in public with her arms uncovered in Jordan, while she could in Lebanon. What are your plans now that you have your PhD? Carine would like to be able to settle someplace, not strictly academic. She will be looking for something that combines research and practice. There may not be a position just like that right now, but something creative will come along. What was your time frame from when you applied? We applied in January 2006, the interviews were in spring 2007, and there were 7 or 8 people interviewing you. Once you get your scholarship, you rank the countries you want to go to, submit the list to R.I., and they decide where you should go. She felt the whole process was worthwhile. When you travel between countries, does their Arabic vary? The dialect is different, and Egyptian Arabic seems the most common. If you aren’t being understood, you can switch to a more formal Arabic, and that usually works. The written language is the same everywhere. Are schools segregated? The primary schools through the fourth grade are mixed, and after that the sexes are separate. What is the basis for head scarves? It varies in Jordan it’s mostly social pressure, but technically, you should start wearing a scarf when you are ready to do so. The basic idea is to create equality putting everyone on the same level. What influence do the Saudis have? I couldn’t tell it doesn’t appear to me that they have much influence, but you cannot know what goes on behind the scene. What is your impression of schooling you received, now that you have lived for awhile in America? I was born in Lebanon, but lived as a child in Kuwait. While there I attended American schools, and we moved here when I was in the 6th grade. I looked forward to it, but it was a tough adjustment. Of course, I now can see all the advantages. Essentially, in the U.S. you can achieve whatever you strive for, whereas in the Middle East social mobility does not exist. It’s almost a caste system. Her brother is a surgeon, and another is a financial consultant - she wonders if they had stayed in Kuwait if that would have been possible.
Carine, thank you for a most enlightening visit.
We yet had the wine drawing, and MARK KRAUSE was the winner of a bottle of Arrow Creek pinot noir. It was bottled in France (according Prexy ED) and he cannot explain why it doesn’t have a French name.
Thought for the day:
You will be disappointed if you fail; however, you are doomed if you never take the first step!