How Many Years Of Math Must Be Taught In Pa Presenting: Mary Jane Mikuriya – Servas Traveller and Committed Local Volunteer in San Francisco

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Presenting: Mary Jane Mikuriya – Servas Traveller and Committed Local Volunteer in San Francisco

When I first met Mary Jane at the recent Canadian-American Servas Conference in Vancouver, I was struck by her youthful brilliance. I thought he might be in his fifties, and then he revealed he’s 70! No wonder: here is a woman who exudes optimism, who always has a smile on her face. As a long-time member of Servas in the United States, Mary Jane has traveled the world and, as a hostess, brought the world into her home; in fact, in almost 30 years it has opened its home to around 300 travelers from all over the world.

From her childhood during World War II, growing up with a mother from Austria-Hungary and a father from Japan, Mary Jane’s cross-cultural sensibilities were sharpened early, and her commitment to social justice began when he was very young Today she is involved in a wide range of causes in San Francisco and her time and dedication are making a difference: Mary Jane is building peace one person at a time. Here is a dynamic woman with a really interesting story:

1. Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, what is your profession, where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. My parents were university educated, but the locals considered them foreigners. My father was prevented from becoming a citizen due to the Federal Asian Exclusion Act of 1924 until the early 1950s when the law was changed.

mary jane

My mother lost her citizenship because in the 1920s, when my parents were married, a woman who married a foreigner lost her citizenship, whether she was a birthright citizen or a naturalized one. This was not the case for men. So my mother was naturalized twice. This law was finally amended in the 1930s. Citizenship and human rights became an important theme in my life.

As a first-generation American with a mother from Austria-Hungary and a father from Japan, you can imagine the looks we received as a mixed-race family with a 5′ 10″ Caucasian mother and a 5′ Asian father ‘ 6″. You can’t imagine how we were treated growing up during World War II with a mother who spoke German and a father who spoke Japanese.

As a child, I was familiar with discrimination in society. When a very blue black Kenyan and a Japanese American from the resettlement camps couldn’t find a place to rent in the Philadelphia-Trenton area, they came to live with us. And there were others that stayed with us over the years, but that was before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination illegal.

Although I wanted to be an engineer like my father, after my second year in college I realized that this was not going to be possible. In 1950 women were not considered for engineering jobs. So when the Russians launched Sputnik, the United States launched a math and science recruitment drive to become teachers.

This is how I was brought into the education profession where I have worked for over 35 years. I held many education-related roles in public and private schools, at the university level, and with the US Department of Education: teaching, educational program evaluation, gender equity/civil rights/desegregation-integration, grant writing , budgets and administration. . Today, I am retired, but still work part-time as a Title I math tutor to enable low-achieving children to succeed in their regular classrooms.

I live in San Francisco, which has a rich history of civil rights activism and offers many opportunities to support issues of peace and social justice. My life is enriched by my many volunteer activities.

2 You have been a member of Servas for many years. How did you find out about this organization and how was your first travel experience?

As a teacher you have a large block of time to travel in the summer. One summer I visited Denmark and had the opportunity to have hospitality at home thanks to the Meet the Danes organized by the Danish tourist office. I was impressed by the experience and throughout my sabbatical around the world, I continued to look for hospitality opportunities back home.

It wasn’t until 1977 when a cousin from Austria visited me here in San Francisco that she told me how she was traveling the USA for 3 months with 5 other people and visiting Americans with Servas. I was delighted to discover that this organization existed and joined Servas immediately, first as a host and then as a traveler.

My first travel experience with Servas was as a host. Since I have a history of people staying at my house, having visitors from Servas was easy. It’s just a two night stay and good conversation. Being a host brings the travel experience into your home. My first visitors were a couple from Denmark, who helped me better understand what Servas stands for. Since Servas was started in Denmark under the name Peace Builders and later changed to the Esperanto word Servas to serve, I realized that the purpose of the organization was to build peace one person at a time. This was for me!

I have had over 300 Servas visitors in my 28 years at Servas and have learned so much from their questions about who I am, what I believe, what the US is or isn’t, and how much more there is to learn. There are many ways to travel and see other places. One of the best ways to travel is through open and wide-ranging conversations with a traveler, whether it’s at their home or mine.

3. Please tell us some stories about some of the international visitors who have stayed at your home or travelers you have connected with, and how some of these experiences have been eye-opening for you.

The Russian Connection:

One of my visitors was a teacher in Russia and wanted to see the inside of a public school in San Francisco. I arranged for him to visit a second grade class. The students received him with enthusiasm. He took a bill out of his wallet and showed it to the class. He asked the class who the man was. Many hands went up and he found that they all thought the person was Abraham Lincoln, because he had money and a beard. But, no, it was Lenin who was also famous but in Russia. And where is Russia? Here on the map was Russia and here was San Francisco. I came away with a conscious awakening about my cultural lens. When I look at different situations while traveling, I may not perceive them correctly. I need to reflect, discuss what I think I perceive and ask for clarification.

Discovering antique quilts at Esprit, of all places:

A visitor to Servas from Australia, he was an artist who wanted to see the tapestries of Esprit, a designer and distributor of women’s clothing. I said I didn’t think they had comforters, but I would call to see if we could visit. To my surprise, the company headquarters was full of antique quilts, the company provided a catalog of their quilts that could be purchased, and there were visiting hours. No, there was no advertising about this display and the company preferred word of mouth. When we visited, I didn’t know as we walked through the large brick walled building whether to look at the fabulous quilts or how the company headquarters was laid out. I realized that these quilts were made by women and were designs like white on white squares that would be seen in the Museum of Modern Art a hundred years later. I realized that my visitor had shown me a part of San Francisco that I was completely unaware of, but thanks to her I got to know about it. When the company was sold, the quilts were donated to a museum for all to see.

Learning about Tajikistan:

One of my most recent visitors to Servas was from Tajikistan. I have to say that I didn’t know anything about this country or even where the country was on the map. So I went to the World Fact Book developed by the CIA. Yes, the CIA that provides very current country-specific information for free online. I learned that it was in Central Asia and used to be part of the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union left, there was no governing structure. Tajikistan was destabilized by civil war which has led to huge personal losses, economic crisis, deep poverty and other social problems. Tajikistan had the lowest GDP per capita of the 15 former Soviet republics. Muborak, my guest, said that many have left Tajikistan for economic and security reasons and are sending money home. For those who remain, the economy is very poor: teachers get $2 a month, doctors $5 a month, and civil servants don’t always get their government paychecks. Under these conditions, bad things are happening.

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