13 May 2013 — Magical Group Study Exchange Day


Some days or weeks remind me even more intensely why I love being a part of a Rotary Club, which is itself a part of the great world of Rotary International.

Our region has been privileged to host the Group Study Exchange Team from Japan, with the final week of that visit coming to the San Fernando Valley, Burbank, and Glendale. Five strangers arrived; five friends depart.

Our Club’s almost full day with our new friends was magical.

As if we needed to do more in one week, a few of us also helped Will Hernandez and Valley Food Bank on National Stamp Out Hunger Day, unloading donated food from mail trucks and loading it onto the Food Bank’s truck…in 100-degree heat. Lose a few pounds, gain a few friends, help feed many hungry people, stagger home exhausted and sore and feeling great that we have Rotary as a vehicle, and the opportunity to serve.










Our Group Study Exchange guests were Team Leader (Rotarian) Satomi “Sammy” Omata, and Team Members Namiko “Nako” Ishikawa, Hiroki “Oggy” Ogino, Noriaki “Nori” Oshimura, and Minami Wade.  Please click here to see their official brochure.

Before our Club’s Day, Friday, May 10, Judy and Roy Glickman had already enjoyed one of the best experiences in Rotary: the chance to host a visitor.  Please click here and read the story of their time with Group Study Exchange (GSE) Team Member Noriaki “Nori” Oshimura.

Friday, May 10, 10:00 a.m.

Location: Nikkei Senior Gardens, Arleta, California

Group Study Exchange involves vocational and cultural experiences.  We visited Nikkei Senior Gardens, a senior assisted living facility in Arleta, for GSE Team Leader Satomi “Sammy” Omata, who is the director of who such facilities in Japan.  NSG Director of Sales and Marketing Marc Aronoff was kind enough to conduct the team on a tour of the facility, and Sammy told us later that she learned a lot from this visit, as well as other visits she made earlier during the month-long journey through District 5280.

GSE Team Leader Sammy Omata and NSG's Marc Aronoff.

GSE Team Leader Sammy Omata and NSG’s Marc Aronoff.









For more photos of the Nikkei Senior Gardens visit, click here.

Nikkei Senior Gardens website.

Friday, May 10, 11:30 a.m.

Location: San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, Pacoima, California

We enjoyed Rotary and community fellowship, and a tasty lunch, at the Community Center, joining the Center’s weekly Senior Hot Meal program.  Club members and friends (including Rotarian Lane Sherman of RC Woodland Hills, former GSE Team Member Terry Takeda who enjoyed a GSE visit to Japan 20 years ago and is the nephew of Community Center President Nancy Oda, and Rotarian Jennifer Usyak of RC Downtown Los Angeles), along with nearly 100 members of the vibrant local Japanese American community, enjoyed the GSE Team’s formal presentation, captured here on video as the centerpiece of this week’s program.

This presentation is given to Rotary Clubs as the GSE Team visits our District.  It is rare for the team to have the opportunity to reach out to the local community outside of Rotary, and we are grateful to the Community Center for facilitating this marvelous event.


If the embedded video does not work, please click here to view it on YouTube.

During the ceremonies, we enjoyed a line-dancing performance to “Greased Lightning” by one of the Community Center’s very active groups, and after lunch the group taught our team (and Consul Odagiri) a dance to an Elvis Presley tune.

We also enjoyed a special flamenco dance performance by our President-Elect Sara Vasquez, accompanied by her friend Cynthia Lisi.









We were honored by the attendance of Consul Toshio Odagiri (and, of course, Jennifer Usyak) from the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles.









For more photos of the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center event, click here.

San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center website.

Friday, May 10, 3:00 p.m.

Location: Los Encinos State Historic Park, Encino, California

California has its deep roots in Spanish and Mexican heritage, and with its 1847-built Adobe serving as tangible history of life on a Rancho, we were pleased to introduce our GSE visitors to this aspect of our region.  We are grateful to Scheereen Dedman of the State Parks system for setting up our guided tour by docent Michael Crosby.









For more photos from our visit to Los Encinos State Historic Park, click here.

Los Encinos State Historic Park website.

Friday, May 10, 4:45 p.m.

Location: Gelson’s Market, Encino, California

The Group Study Exchange team is going, almost non-stop, every day for an entire month.  We enjoyed snacks and a little head-clearing time in a comfortable seating area at Gelson’s, where the Team also enjoyed seeing the differences in products available at a U.S. market as compared to supermarkets in Japan.

Team Leader Sammy learned out that the next day was Nancy Schmidt’s birthday, went to the floral counter, and created this scene:









Friday, May 10, 6:30 p.m.

Location: Shiraz Restaurant, Glendale, California

The final event of the day was a fun, relaxing, informal dinner with the Rotary Club of Glendale Moonlight at fantastic Shiraz in Glendale.  If our honored guests had any doubts that the portions served in the US are often larger than those served in Japan, this family-style dinner removed all doubt in delicious fashion.









For more photos from our dinner with Glendale Moonlight, click here.

A magical, full day of Rotary and friendship ended around 9:00 p.m., and our Rotary E-Club is grateful to have been given the opportunity to host this day with our guests, and privilege to have made these five new friends.


The opinions expressed by guest speakers are those of the speaker(s) and not necessarily of the Rotary E-Club of The Greater San Fernando Valley or its members. No endorsement is implied. Programs are presented for informational purposes only.


2 responses to 13 May 2013 — Magical Group Study Exchange Day

  1. That was quite a day. Congratulations to all who helped make it happen. All our club members were able to share in the GSE experience. For a small club, we made a big impact.

  2. It was a great day, with a wonderful group of Rotary visitors, topped off by a fun and adventurous dinner with our Rotarian friends from the Glendale Moonlight Club.

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