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Boring business meeting? Not this one!

A file photo of a Leicester Novus meeting

With its usual round of receiving reports on recent activities, studying balance sheets and approving donating cash to charities, the monthly business meetings held by Rotary clubs are generally more routine than riveting.

But Leicester Novus’s June Business was enlightened and enlivened by guest speaker Prof Atsuko Miyake.

Prof Miyake has been in Leicester since April 2019 studying Victorian English Literature, including the work of Charles Dickens. She was introduced to Novus Rotary by Mai Tsumura, from the same part of Japan as Atsuko. Mai has been in Leicester studying the life and work of Victorian artist, art critic, philosopher and philanthropist since September 2018.

At a young age Atsuko decided on a life of academia, even though — as she self-deprecatingly observed — it would limit her chances of meeting ‘Mr Right’. Atusko told Novus members and guests including Mai and Engineering MSc student Khomesh Kamat that she studied in Australia and New Zealand. Then she studied in Spokane, in Washington State, USA.
But 25 years ago she came to study for her Masters degree at Nottingham University. She was sponsored — just as Mai currently is — by Rotary clubs in District 2680.

She told her audience that while studying at Nottingham she was looked after by Newark Rotary Club and one couple in particular. She recounted how she met one man who took her to Matlock in a vintage open-topped car. On the journey the driver spotted a man about to launch a hang-glider.

He stopped the car and got Atsuko a ride in the two-seater hang-glider. She gave a hilarious account of her flight which took her high over Chatsworth House. “It went up very suddenly. I could feel the pressure beneath mew. It was like being in water,” she said, confessing that she had not ticked the box on her travel insurance form opting for cover for dangerous activities like hang-gliding.

Atsuko said she returned to her home near Kobe a short time before the city was devastated by the 1995 earthquake and her British friends were quick to contact her to make sure she was OK.

Now Atsuko works for Seinan Gakuin University which was founded in 1916 by Rev. C. K. Dozier, a Southern Baptist missionary from the United States. Today it still works along Christian principles and Atsuko plays a major part in holding events for her students in the hope that they might make it easier for academics to find their ‘Mr Right’.

Last edited: 23:35 06.04.2019