My mountaintop experience

Sunrise on the summit of Mt. Fuji.

Sunrise on the summit of Mt. Fuji.

By Valentina, a current Rotary Youth Exchange student from the United States to Japan who received round-trip airfare through United’s 10 Million Charity Miles Giveaway.

I have been in Japan for only two weeks, but already so much has happened! The day I arrived I was greeted by local Rotary members and my host mother at the airport. I couldn’t believe I was in Japan. Continue reading

RI President: Reflecting on peace

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

My visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial made a deep impression on me. Walking through the rows of empty chairs, one for each of the bombing’s 168 victims, I thought of the families, friends, and loved ones left behind. Continue reading

Rotary-UN Day and putting Service Above Self

RI President Sakuji Tanaka stands by a section of the Berlin Wall on display at the UN, during Rotary-UN Day. The first of three Rotary Global Peace Forums begins in Berlin, Germany, on 30 November. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary Images

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

After the RI Board meeting in November, I attended a memorable Rotary-UN Day in New York City.

While this annual event is important because it reinforces the long-standing relationship between the United Nations and Rotary International, this year was different from past Rotary-UN Days. Less than a week before the event, Hurricane Sandy hit, knocking out power and flooding parts of the area. The city was still struggling to get back on its feet during our event. Yet 950 people of the 1,300 who registered for the event were able to attend. Continue reading

Seeing Peace Through Service

Brian Thompson, District 7070 governor-nominee, right, and his wife, Karen, with RI President Sakuji Tanaka in Vancouver during the Zone 24-32 Institute.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

I was moved to see my theme for the year, Peace Through Service, in action once again in the Rotary world, especially at a Rotary Institute in Yeosu, Korea.

At the institute, I learned about some of the Korean Rotarians’ effective membership initiatives and how they reached out to Rotarians in Japan. This is significant because, historically, Koreans and Japanese have had difficult relations. Through Rotary, though, they showed that we’re all part of a non-political organization. They told me it is more important to have person-to-person relationships. Rotarians just want to do good in the world and change lives. I have seen this over and over during my worldwide travels. Continue reading

RI President: Rotarians promoting service and peace

President Tanaka and club presidents from Hong Kong visit a site in Mongolia. Photo by Peter Pang

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

Throughout my travels in September, I saw Rotarians promoting Peace Through Service and diligently helping others.

One event that comes to mind, which I attended in September, was the 11th Korea-Japan Goodwill Conference in Tokyo. It brought together more than 1,400 Rotarians from two countries that are experiencing conflict. I was proud to see Rotarians talking about promoting friendship between their countries. Many Rotarians feel that, despite what politicians say, Rotarians share common ideals of service, and this attitude can help transcend conflict. Continue reading

Using vocational service to build peace

RI President Sakuji Tanaka

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

In Japan, we place great importance on the value of work. Whatever we are called to do, we should do it to the very best of our abilities, with dignity and with pride. Whether the job is running a country or shining shoes, there is honor in every vocation.

I grew up embracing this belief, but I had never stopped to contemplate it. One day, in my third year in Rotary, we had a speaker at our club who talked about the purpose of one’s livelihood. He asked, why do we work hard? What is the importance of our work? Continue reading

RI President: Receiving a goat in Kenya

RI President Sakuji Tanaka receives a goat as a gift during his visit in Kenya.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

While I was in Africa recently, I traveled through eight countries and nine cities, meeting people and projects along the way. What I saw amazed me.

For example, I met Rotarians who had an impressive ability to identify the needs of orphaned children. They were using grants from The Rotary Foundation to help support a dairy farm in Kenya. Continue reading

A soggy lobster bake shines with Rotary spirit

Marty Peak Helman with RI President Sakuji Tanaka during the Changeover ceremony in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, 1 July. Photo by Ann Lee Hussey

By Marty Peak Helman, governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, USA)

On his first day as RI President, Sakuji Tanaka joined Rotarians in my hometown of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, taking part in a Changeover ceremony for six district governors and 46 club presidents.

Rotarians came from Quebec, New York, New Jersey, and all over New England – some making a 10-hour drive — in order to shake hands with Tanaka-san, hear him speak, and be formally inducted by him into their new Rotary offices. It was a remarkable honor for all. Continue reading

Rotarians in Japan work to bring back a local economy

To celebrate the rebirth of northeastern Japan’s fishing industry after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, five Rotary clubs in the Oshu-Mizusawa area threw a party in September at the Plaza Inn Mizusawa. The guests enjoyed a dinner that showcased fish from Ofunato, a coastal town in Iwate Prefecture.

Before the event, Plaza Inn chef Kowa Sato, a member of the Rotary Club of Mizusawa-Isawa, drove about 25 miles with his team to buy fish at the Ofunato market, which had reopened that May. The video above featuring Sato captures the sushi-making process from start to finish. Continue reading