Table Speech

“My Origins”

November 2nd, 2005

Rotary Foundation Scholarship Student
Ms. Victoria McCready

 I am studying i nternational business and Japanese as a Rotary Club Foundation Scholarship student at Sophia University. The city of Melville in Tennessee from where I am from celebrated its 100th year of establishment. To commemorate this, a picnic ground was built in the city park. The picnic ground was built in the shape of a railroad station that had long provided important service to the development of the economy and history of Melville.

 The name “Tennessee” is derived from an American Indian word, “Tana-see” (a gathering place). The state is divided into East, Central, and Western regions, and it is the longest and narrowest state, being 491 miles from the eastern border to the western border, and there is even a time zone difference within the state.

 The Great Smokey Mountain National Park, just like Mt. Fuji is for the Japanese, is a pride of the Tennessee people. Do you know that one of the founders of this national park was a “Masaharu Ituka,” who was born in 1881 and who had come from Tokyo? He came to the United State in 1905, and moved to Ashville, North Carolina, in 1915, and dedicated his life to photographing the Great Smokey Mountains. He never took a job, and died destitute, but his passion and his endeavor are enduring forever.

 Music is especially important for the peoples of Tennessee. In the past, peoples of Tennessee were not well off. But even poor, they never forgot music. It is fascinating that they made instruments using ironing boards, tobacco cases, and even chamber pots. In Western Tennessee you can find blues and rock’n’roll that were originated from Memphis. Elvis Presley made his first album in Memphis, and this became his second home. He died in 1977 but his house has been preserved, and many people still visit. “Jack Daniels,” a whiskey named after a famous person, is produced in Lynchburg, and has been a contribution to the city’s coffers, but under the law the local resident is not permitted to buy Jack Daniel in the city. Lynchburg is still a dry county, therefore, although liquor is produced, you cannot buy liquor there.

 People of Tennessee take great pride in their traditions, but also warmly welcome immigrants. In the past, most of the immigrants came from England, Ireland, Germany, and Italy. More recently, people from Asian countries and Mexico are increasing rapidly. In 1988, a Japanese company, “DENSO”, had set up a factory in Melville. The president of the company explained his reasons for selecting Melville in the following way: “In Melville, there is warmth created by the people of the city. The city also provides the 4 critical components to the company. Firstly, Melville is geographically blessed, providing a transportation system enabling safe and speedy distribution. Secondly, the local government and public agencies offer a cooperative structure. The ability to recruit staffs who are dedicated to diligence, cooperation, and dedication, and finally, the availability of land needed for future business expansion. These are some of the reasons for our company to locate in Melville.”

 Even companies that have found success in Tennessee, at times, find themselves in situations where there is a sense of cultural differences and not being able to fully appreciate others’ thinking. Misunderstandings cause people to get hurt, and may result in lost business opportunities. This is why RI and RI programs are so important, to deepen international communication and understanding.

 RI Scholarship students, as goodwill ambassadors, propagate information about their home countries to the people in the RC in the host country. After returning home, they will present what they have experienced and learned overseas. Today’s students have been empowered to become the community leaders and global leaders who will bear the future. I have had an experience of working for 3 years as an English teacher in Shizuoka under the JET Program, and I want to use that experience once more and wish to come to Japan once again. My future dream and aspiration is to work in Japan and serve to deepen the friendly relationship between the United States and Japan.