East meets West . . . in Annapolis Japanese learn about volunteerism

October 21, 1992|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Kimiko Arita, a 57-year-old woman from Kanagawa, Japan, and Euclin Mapp, a senior volunteer from Annapolis, found they had a little more in common than they originally thought.

Mrs. Arita, who stayed with Mrs. Mapp while touring Maryland to learn about senior volunteerism, is married to a graduate of the Japanese Naval Academy. Mrs. Mapp's son-in-law graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.

The tiny coincidence made her visit even more enjoyable, she said.

"I enjoyed the stay very much," said Ms. Arita, "We became friends and I would very much like to do it again."

Mrs. Arita and 26 others sponsored by the Kanagawa Higher Education Commission of Japan came to their sister-state of Maryland to learn about volunteerism, which they said has disappeared from their society.

"Japanese society is different from America's," said Tetsuro Ogimura, co-coordinator of the delegation and staff member of the Kanagawa International Association.

"After the '60s, there was rapid industrialization and we lost our community," he said. "We want to serve our community by ourselves, like Americans do, not by the government."

The idea of volunteerism mystified the Japanese, added Jean Van Buskirk, of Maryland's International Division.

"Volunteerism is an American tradition, but over there everything is paid for by the government," she said.

The delegates toured the usual sites in the historic district of Annapolis, Washington and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. And they got down to business with a tour of the Hatton Senior Center in Baltimore, arranged by the state Office on Aging.

Hannelies Penner, director of the center, said that seniors there explained to their visitors the various kinds of volunteer activities in which they are involved. They explained quilting for their guests, who responded with a demonstration of origami, the Japanese art of creating images by folding paper.

"It was a very good experience for both sides," Ms. Penner said. "My seniors were very happy sharing with them."

During their visit, the delegates from Kanagawa were housed with 12 volunteers from seven Maryland counties.

Mrs. Arita and Ei Ogura, 53, stayed with Mrs. Mapp, who took them to such important places as the Annapolis Mall and a local supermarket.

Both Japanese delegates said they learned much from their sister-state friend, Mrs. Mapp.

Last night, the Kanagawa delegates thanked their Maryland hosts with a dinner at Greenbelt Marriot in Prince George's County.

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