Rotarians enjoy Japanese talk

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THERE was a very international and topical theme at Ellon Rotary Club’s recent meeting, where the speaker was Dr Aiko Miura from Japan.

Aiko, who comes from the South West of Japan, works for a pharmaceutical company in Tokyo. She has been given one year’s leave to attend an MBA International Healthcare Management course at the University of Aberdeen. She is also a member of Matsuyama North Rotary Club in Japan, and is attending Aberdeen University as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.

Aiko had just returned from two weeks’ holiday in Japan, and so was able to bring the club up to date with the aftermath of the recent earthquake. From what she saw in Tokyo, well away from the quake’s epicentre, some British press reports had given “misinformation” about the situation. As an example, she cited a headline of ‘Panic in Tokyo’, with pictures of crowded streets and railway stations, with many people wearing face masks. In fact, she explained, Tokyo is always crowded like this and face masks are common at this time of year because of smog or hay fever. The only significant difference she noticed was that the streets were darker in order to conserve electricity at night.

In addition to her studies, Aiko takes weekly Highland dancing lessons, and hopes to give demonstrations back home. She concluded her talk by singing the Japanese version of Auld Lang Syne with the familiar tune but entitled ‘By the glow of fireflies’, drawing appreciative applause.

Since Rotary Ambassadorial scholarships were founded in 1947, more than 40,000 people from over 100 countries have been helped to study abroad. Today, it is one of the world’s largest privately-funded international scholarship programmes. In 2009-10, nearly 700 scholarships were awarded, providing the opportunity to study abroad in more than 80 countries.