Last updated: March 05. 2014 11:23AM - 1597 Views
Eileen Christian Abington Journal Columnist

Fumiko Osuko, left, is pictured with a member of her host family, Emily Crowley.
Fumiko Osuko, left, is pictured with a member of her host family, Emily Crowley.
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The Rotary Club of the Abingtons is hosting a most remarkable, young woman as an exchange student from Japan. She’s settled into the Abington Heights High School and is taking classes . Her name is Fumiko Osuka (大須賀史子) and she’s from Shizuoka, Japan.

For the first semester, Fumiko lived with Trip and Michele Crowley and their children. During her time with the family, Fumiko immediately became a fan of the Crowley’s cooking.

“I especially love baked brie, pizza and cheeseburger soup,” she said.

Like other high school students, Fumiko loves sports and played with the Abington Heights volleyball team. She joined the team in September and although she had difficulty understanding English and the rules of the game, she found sports are the same all over the world.

“Playing volleyball helped me to make new friends,” she said. “The time I spent playing with my teammates was awesome. I really had a good time.”

When it was Cookie Day with the volleyball club, Fumiko made green tea cookies and shared them.

Fumiko joined members of the Crowley family on a ski trip to the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Trip Crowley is a member of the Elk Mountain ski patrol. He was with Fumiko on the slopes, helping her find her way. Host families provide room and board, and involve the student in family activities.

During the Christmas break, Fumiko’s parents arrived for a visit. Her father is an elementary school teacher in Japan and was especially interested in our local school. Together they traveled to Niagara Falls, seeing the popular attraction from both the American and the Canadian sides. They visited Washington, D.C. and spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square in New York City.

Fumiko will join other Rotary Exchange Students on the Discover America Bus Trip for further travel in July. The itinerary includes visiting 24 states, traveling 8,300 miles from the east coast to the west coast in 31 days, with stops at places like the Grand Canyon and Disneyland. When asked about the trip, Fumiko said, “it will be awesome.”

The Rotary Youth Exchange is a study-abroad opportunity for young people all over the world, who can spend from a few weeks to a full year away from home. Our local Rotary club has sponsored students from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, China, India, Australia, to name just a few.

The student comes to our Rotary Club meetings each Thursday and often shares his or her experiences. For a student to be eligible for the program, he or she must have demonstrated leadership and academic achievement in their own school and community, be willing to try new things, be open to cultural differences and willing to serve as an ambassador for their country.

For these teenagers to leave their homeland, their family, and friends, takes courage. No matter how exciting the program, the time comes when the student must take a leap of faith, jumping into an unfamiliar climate, culture and household. For those host families who in the past have opened their homes to foreign students, all say what a remarkable experience it was. Often the exchange student continues the friendships for years, keeping the Rotary Club informed of marriages, births and accomplishments.

Fumiko will spend the second semester with Rotarian Tata Mbugua and her daughter, Noni Murithi, who is also President of the Abington Heights High School Interact Club.

Murithi understands the excitement and fun of being an exchange student as she recently experienced life away from home, living with a family in the Philippines for a year. Murithi and Fumiko have much in common sharing international cultures and experiences.

How fortunate we are as Rotarians to have had so many outstanding young men and women come to our community year after year from countries so far away. As they learn from us, we learn from them, in life enriching ways.

Pay It Forward Continues

The Abington Heights High School Interact Club members recently visited an elementary school in our area. The teens told the younger students about the campaign. Here’s how it works:

1. A good deed is done willingly.

2. When the receiver says, “thank you,” the giver says “Pay It Forward.”

3. The receiver is then encouraged to pass along the good deed.

The “Pay It Forward” campaign has been a successful motivating force of the Abington Heights High School Interact Club, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of the Abingtons.

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