Rotary, a matter of the heart

Manaka

Manaka Kuwabara

By Joseph Batory, past president of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Six years ago, I agreed to serve on my district’s scholarship committee. I now have many fond memories of helping 12 students attain fully subsidized Rotary International scholarships abroad. I have also counseled and befriended 23 Rotary scholars from around the world who have studied in Philadelphia.

I could easily highlight some of the “scholar characters” I have met or even some marriages that have occurred among Rotary scholars studying here in Philadelphia, but I would rather emphasize just one story that illustrates the magnificence of Rotary.

Three years ago, my wife and I welcomed a young man from Japan (Makoto Kuwabara) to Philadelphia as he began his studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Makoto promptly informed us that his wife (Chihiro) would be joining him to be by his side while he pursues his master’s degree.

Surprising news

When Chihiro arrived in Philadelphia, I inquired how things were going, and Makoto told me his wife was very sick with vomiting and nausea. I urged him to immediately take her to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. On my follow-up telephone call, I was flabbergasted to learn that the medical diagnosis was that Chihiro was pregnant. On top of that, Makoto was quite upset because the hospital had given them an appointment three months later.

I took the extra Rotary step and arranged a private appointment with a friend of mine who is an obstetrician to help the expectant couple. On the way to the doctor, I counseled them to ask many questions. Once we got there, the Japanese couple begged me to come with them into the examination room. I was terrified and reluctant, but Chihiro and Makoto literally dragged me in.

My Japanese pupils quizzed the doctor in many areas. I had trained them well!

When the doctor exclaimed “Let’s have a look at the baby!” and instructed Chihiro to pull up her blouse, I wanted to run for cover. But there was nowhere to escape in the small examining room. Suddenly, through the wonder of modern technology, parents and adopted Rotary grandfather (me) were looking at a fetus.

The ultrasound showed the “baby-to-be” and began beeping regularly. I was certain that something was wrong. But the parents, still following my “exceptional training,” calmly inquired what the machine was telling us. The doctor answered: “There is no problem. We are listening to and seeing the heart of your child.”

More wonderful than riches

In that marvelously beautiful moment, I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life, one that truly touched my heart, thanks to Rotary and its scholarship program.

Manaka Kuwabara was a healthy birth and now lives with her parents and a younger sister (Hiroka) in Japan. Through Skype and email, I still communicate with the Kuwabara family.

This Rotary experience was all about heart! Rotary members who open themselves up to the experiences possible through Rotary get rewarded — not with money or riches, but with something much more wonderful.

Learn more about how you can become involved in Rotary scholarships

Source: Rotary Voices

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