By Anna Ueda, 2010-11 Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar
On Thanksgiving week in November 2017, I visited Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, where I was accredited as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar seven years ago. This short trip brought me so many precious moments in reconnecting with amazing people that I had met through Rotary, that I had to share them.
After being nominated by the Rotary Club of Ashiya, I was sent to the Rotary Club of Minneapolis City of Lakes, Minnesota, as an ambassadorial scholar in 2010. Studying public policies for immigrants, refugees, and homeless people at the University of Minnesota, I took part in a variety of Rotary activities; presentations in and out of the state, volunteering for communities, and taking part in fundraising events including jumping into a frozen lake. The entire year was full of excitement, surprises, and learning.
One of the main purposes of my return trip to Minneapolis was to visit all the people and friends who I had met through Rotary and Rotaract. Starting with Jim Eaton, my counselor, and Tom Tamura, the only Japanese Rotarian in the club, many familiar faces and even new faces welcomed me at the meeting. Since it was the day before Thanksgiving, everybody shared what each of us were grateful for: having a family to celebrate together, having a job, and precious friendships with Rotarians that had passed away that year. I was very blessed being able to show my gratitude to the bonds Rotary helped me create and to the Rotarians for their warm and dedicated hearts.
The highlight of the trip was meeting with Connie Gotthilf of the Rotary Club of Edina. After I visited her club for a presentation, she kindly held a Japanese tea ceremony party, took me on a trip, and remained very close until we lost track of each other a few years ago. I was extremely worried about her, but when I discovered where she lived and found her in good health, I could not help but burst into tears of relief and joy.
In retrospect, my scholar year was definitely a turning point. All the experiences made my life more open to the world, more colorful, and more hopeful and bright. Adding the fact that my father was also an ambassadorial scholar, the impact Rotary has had on me is indescribable.
All of the Rotarians that I met are happy to serve locally and globally. They spared no effort in offering me advice, showing me directions, giving praise, and encouraging me both as a professional and as a human being. I treasure the life-long friends I have gained through Rotary. Minnesota has become a second home to me.
In the spring of this year, I am going to start my master’s degree to become a clinical counselor to use my psychology training to support people regardless of their nationality, background, and economical or social circumstances. I will continue my current job at a robotics laboratory at Osaka University. I will work the best I can to give back not only to Rotary, but to the global world for the better.
Read this blog post in Japanese