‘We can make life better’

PRINCEVILLE — Building bridges and a will to change the world. That was the theme of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay’s meeting as its president signed a friendship agreement with a club in Japan.

“Tonight, both our parties are here to declare are mission to extend goodwill, enrich our cultures and contribute to world peace,” said Michael Dexter-Smith, Hanalei Bay Rotary Club president. “It’s certainly a grand plan.”

Susumu Uno, president of the Rotary Club of Kyoto Rakuhoku, added: “The slogan for rotary this year is ‘tsunagu,’ meaning ‘connect,’ so it’s my great pleasure to establish a good friendship with you. I’m looking forward to making many new connections from now on.”

Kyoto’s gave his opening statements in Japanese, and his speech was projected in English on a screen.

The meeting and signing ceremony took place Thursday at the pool of the St. Regis Hotel in Princeville. Dozens of members of the Hanalei rotary club as well as 11 delegates from the Kyoto club attended.

The friendship agreement took about six months to plan, Dexter-Smith said.

Now, the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay and the Rotary Club of Kyoto Rakuhoku will work together on service projects that will help make the world a better place.

The first step to making the world a “quieter place” is starting conversations about what is going on in the world, Dexter-Smith added.

“If we don’t look at the problems, who will?” he said. “We’ve got smart people with sharp ideas, and we can make a difference.”

Projects include providing shelter boxes and clean water resources for countries in need, he said.

Dexter-Smith expects the international projects will extend across the Pacific Ocean.

But the Japanese rotary club will also aid Hanalei Bay in their efforts to improve Kauai. The rotary club organizes everything from food pantries and rebuilding projects to offering scholarships.

“Between us and Japan, we can make life better for the people,” Dexter-Smith said.

During the signing ceremony, Uno talked of the similarities between Japan and Kauai.

“Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, and there are many historical sites, and many temples and shrines in our territory. And the area has a rich environment,” he said. “Kauai also has a wonderful and natural environment, and many tourists visit here. So it really is a good match that your club and our club make a friendship.”

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