President Allan Cady, looking refreshed and enthusiastic following his recent trip to New Zealand, opened the meeting by asking Ray Smith to lead everyone in song.  Ray chose two verses of  "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."  Geoff White offered the invocation and Bob Zarling led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Bob Jensen was the official greeter.
Several guests were present.  Frank Rosenberg introduced his wife, Amanda.  Erwin and Joan Wyman were visiting from Rapid City, South Dakota.  Carolyn Jones was introduced by Wendell.  Ted Williams introduced two guests seated at his table:  Cindy Koen, a realtor and Don Eckstrom, a visiting Rotarian.
After badge numbers 68, 14, and 30 were drawn with none of the badge owners present to win, the growing pot for the attendance drawing will again move forward to April 19, when the potential winnings will be $20.
Chuck Flint announced that the weekly raffle winner would receive $52, and if the ace of clubs were to be drawn the winner would receive an additional $1,192.00.  Bob Zarling's ticket was drawn, but after being allowed to see that the ace of clubs was actually in the deck, and doing his own shuffling, he drew the four of hearts.  Bob was disappointed, but everyone else seemed pretty happy that the potential winnings next week would be even more.
Sgt. at Arms, Greg Okonowski, collected happy bucks.  Steve Ross was happy the Spring Olympics were coming up.  He urged everyone to start getting in shape, stating that Luin is already working out and planning to retain her title.  Dr. Ron Thompson was simply happy to be present at the meeting.  Chris Krueger was happy that Allan and Polly were back from their trip.  John Eagleston was just happy.  Pam Cohen had some Arizona gifts for Takuma (our exchange student from Japan), Polly Cady was glad to be home from their wonderful trip.  Don LaBarge saw Jim Crutcher since our last meeting.  It will be some time before life settles down at the Berge Ford dealership, but Jim will be back as soon as he is able.  He assured Don he would not resign and he will be back.  Bob Zarling paid $2 because Greg told him he had to since he won the weekly raffle, but he paid more because he was happy to be at the meeting.  Penny May paid happy dollars because she was in Arizona long enough this spring to learn that 100° "isn't so bad after all."  
Polly Cady had an auction item from their trip to New Zealand.  The bidding was pretty intense until Bob Jensen jumped his bid to $100 and became the lucky winner.  
  • Don LaBarge reminded members of the tree planting project at the Save the Family building at 121 W University on the 13th and 14th.  Prep work was scheduled for 9:00 AM Friday.  Expert instruction for the volunteers should prevent damage to the trees from improper preparation and planting.  The actual planting work was planned for Saturday, again at 9:00 AM.  
  • Allan reminded members that the Sponsor Appreciation Reception will be held 5:30 - 8:00 Wednesday, April 25 at the Arizona Museum of Natural History.  A list of donors was on the tables for members to take review for accuracy in the way donor names were displayed and to remind members to contact the donors they solicited by phone to personally invite them to the reception.
Dan Coons introduced Takuma Fujiya who, even though sponsored by our club, has been hosted by a family living in the Arcadia High School District in Scottsdale.
Takuma began by answering the question he is most frequently asked.  His favorite foods are pizza, hamburgers, and every Japanese food.  He said the population of Japan is approximately 127 million in an area slightly bigger than Germany.  He is not from a large city.  His home is in the Japanese countryside.  
When he left to come to the United States, Takuma was touched that several of his friends saw him off at the airport.  Immediately on his arrival in the U.S., he was struck by the frustration that the English language skills he thought he had were almost useless.  He has decided that the English teachers in the Japanese schools are the "worst in the world."  Particularly frustrating was the fact that there are no similar sounds to "L" or "R" in the Japanese language, so hearing them accurately and trying to pronounce words correctly was nearly impossible.
When he was first here, he found everything - even the most basic things - very confusing, and he admitted some homesickness early in his exchange.  After having time to adapt to his new surroundings and culture, he has fun and is enjoying his experience.  He still struggles with English.  The other students at his school speak very fast.  He has enjoyed meeting other exchange students, and the trips he has enjoyed with them - Slide Rock near Sedona, the Grand Canyon and a Diamondbacks game.  It was the first baseball game he had ever seen in his entire life.  Takuma had a slide of flags on display on September 11.  Until he saw a flag for each person that lost their life on that date in 2001, he had not grasped the enormity of that horrific event.  He spoke of the exchange student Havasupai hike.  He somehow enjoyed what he saw there even though his legs felt like they were broken from the gruelling 24-mile hike.
Takuma attended the Mesa West Christmas Party where they had a White Elephant game.  He thought it was horrible that people were stealing each other's presents.  He also participated in a Christmas service project.  His host family took him to California for a family wedding.  He is unsure who actually got married.  While there he saw the beach at Santa Monica, and visited Hollywood, where he took photos of stars on the sidewalk and was photographed with (a cut out of ) Brad Pitt.
He has enjoyed several trips to Sedona as his host father has a son who has a home there.  While in Sedona, he had the opportunity to go into the famous church there that many of us have seen only from the outside.  He particularly enjoyed a trip to Las Vegas (which was on his bucket list), but wants to go back after 20 (we all thought he meant 21).  His biggest surprise in Las Vegas was the hotel that has a roller coaster inside.
The Coons family took Takuma to the Science Center in Phoenix.  Takuma's best weekend here was his weekend at RYLA.  He thanked members of Mesa West Rotary for sponsoring his exchange.  When asked about customs he has missed, he was quick to respond that he misses the Japanese custom of shoe removal when entering a home.  He still feels like people are unnecessarily stomping around inside dwellings.  Still on his bucket list is a visit to Chicago, but Pam Cohen was pretty sure he would get to see Chicago on his train trip with other exchange students.   When asked about his future plans, he indicated his father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and work in advertising.  Takuma has different ideas, but one short term goal he would like to accomplish, now that his English is much improved, is to be a translator during the Olympics, so he told Rotarians to watch for him on TV.