River Hill student returns from trip impressed by life in Japan


August 05, 1998|By Kathy Curtis | Kathy Curtis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SWANSFIELD RESIDENT Drew Woodbury returned last week from a three-week trip to California and Japan.

He was one of 50 students nationwide chosen for the Sony Student Project Abroad, sponsored by Sony Electronics Inc. and Sony Corp. of Japan.

"I really profited from this experience," said Drew, who will be a senior this year in the Technology Magnet Program at River Hill High School.

"I was really interested in seeing what the world was up to in electronics," he added. "And I made lifelong contacts."

The students began their trip by spending several days in California, touring Sony's plants. Then they traveled to Japan, staying mostly in the Tokyo area.

"Everything is much smaller there," Drew observed. But, he added, "it's amazingly efficient."

He remarked that the Japanese are very polite drivers. "Everybody was driving under the speed limit," he said.

For four days, Drew stayed with a Japanese family. Except for a few customs, such as removing one's shoes upon entering the house, Drew found Japanese life more familiar than he expected.

"I was surprised at how modern it was," he added. "They have so many electronics."

He mentioned the home's doorbell, which was connected to the telephone. When someone rings the bell, the resident can speak with him on the phone.

The students toured the Sony showroom in Tokyo, where the company's latest products are displayed. They also visited MediaWorld, Sony's design center for cutting-edge audiovisual equipment, and met executives.

They participated in a planning session with Sony engineers who are designing an "entertainment robot" that looks like a dog.

The robot can also be programmed to act like a cat or a monkey.

After demonstrating the robot, the engineers asked for the students' ideas. Most suggested adding practical uses, such as a phone or answering machine, Drew said.

To experience Japanese culture, the students visited the Toshobu Shrine in Nikko and Nikko Village, a re-creation of life in the 17th to 19th centuries.

Drew was selected for the trip by the Maryland Department of Education. He is a 4.0 honor student and president of the River Hill chapter of the National Honor Society.

In the school's Technology Magnet Program, he is in the energy, power and transportation cluster. Last year, for his junior practicum, he headed a team of students that built an electric car.

In college, Drew plans to major in either mechanical or aerospace engineering.

After his trip to Japan, he said he may want to study for some time there.

"It's my personal belief," he said, "that in the future, contacts with the East will be very important."

Jumpers take first

Four members of the Kangaroo Kids jump-rope team took first place overall in the junior division (ages 17 and under) of the European Open Championships last week in Amsterdam.

They competed against eight teams from Europe, the United States and Canada.

Representing the Kangaroo Kids were Hickory Ridge resident Amanda Ramsey and Swansfield resident Marissa Schwartz, Jasmine Evans of Columbia and Jimmy McCleary of Elkridge.

Amanda jumped single rope speed. Jimmy jumped single rope freestyle. The two teamed up for single rope pairs freestyle.

Marissa joined Jimmy and Amanda for Double Dutch freestyle and speed events. All four jumpers teamed up for the double Dutch pairs freestyle and speed events.

The jumpers "had to compete exceptionally well in all events to win," noted Jean Hodges, one of the two head coaches for Kangaroo Kids.

She added that this was the first opportunity for the Howard County youngsters to compete against teams from Europe.

Team members were accompanied by Hodges; the other head coach, Jim McCleary -- father of Jimmy; and Mildred Smith-Evans, mother of Jasmine and the team's Double Dutch coach.

After the championship July 26 and 27, the youngsters participated in a jump-rope camp the rest of the week.

"It gave them an opportunity to learn from the extremely talented European jumpers," said Hodges.

Faculty promotions

Two west Columbia residents were among faculty members promoted recently at Howard Community College.

To be promoted, instructors must meet professional objectives and demonstrate service to the college and the community.

Running Brook resident Barbara Graham Cooper, who joined the faculty in 1991, was promoted to professor of English.

She developed strategies and materials for teaching the honors class, "Introduction to Literature."

Cooper also serves as coordinator of freshman composition and the intensified writing program.

Hobbit's Glen resident Rita W. Guida, a faculty member since 1986, was promoted to professor of English.

She designed and taught a composition course based on a study of peace.

Guida has served on the Honors, Women's Studies, Rouse Scholars and Faculty Forum executive committees.

Wright to read to tots

Longfellow resident Marthe Wright will read to preschoolers at the River Hill Bagel Bin in River Hill Village Center from 10 a.m. to 10: 45 a.m. Aug. 26.

It will be the last of three Summer Story Time events sponsored by the store.

Wright is known in Columbia for the ballet classes she teaches at Slayton House, in Wilde Lake Village Center.

She also is an assistant to Turner, Dean of Magic. The two have performed at village centers and The Mall in Columbia.

No registration is needed for the story time. Those attending will have a chance to win a children's book.

Information: 410- 531-0335.

Pub Date: 8/05/98

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