For many Americans during World War II, Japan was once the enemy, and thus always the enemy, even after the war was long over.
Not so for Hayward’s Richard Schultz. An army veteran wounded in the battle to take the South Seas island of Bouganville from the Japanese in 1944, Mr. Schultz began as a counselor/history teacher at Hayward High School in 1950. In 1964, as a veteran teacher, he received a prestigious Fullbright Scholarship to study in Japan. During his stay there he visited Sado Island, and met Mr.Kikuchi, (The Japanese don’t use first names.) a teacher at Sado High School. Between them grew an idea, an idea to build international relations between the U.S.A. and Japan. Thus the Sado Exchange Club was born.
In 1971, Mr. Schultz led five Hayward High students to Sado Island, where for six weeks they studied the Japanese language and culture, while experiencing life in a foreign country. The next year, a group of Japanese students from Sado High School crossed the Pacific to Hayward, where they spent a similar time, living with American families, attending classes at Hayward High, and developing an understanding of life in America. So successful was this prograom, that the exchanges continued for the next thirty years, promoting knowledge and understanding between two countries that had been mortal enemies during World War II.
However, all good things come to an end, and by 2003, the staff in both schools had changed, funding had dried up, and the interest and enthusiasm had waned. Until 2013, that is. This year, with the help of a Hayward Rotary grant to the Hayward Education Foundation, the Sado Club is coming alive again. In March, 2013, a contingent from Sado High School will once again journey eastward across the Pacific to live and study in the Hayward community.
Hopefully, this will begin another long run of exchanges between Hayward and Sado Island. It has long been said that travel is broadening, and when students are taken out of their comfort zone to experience life in a foreign land, their eyes are opened to a multitude of new possibilities in life. They make new friends, learn new languages, love new foods, experience new customs and ways of doing things. In short, they grow in so many ways, ways vital to young people planning a future in the world without borders we inhabit today.
At age 87, Richard Schultz travels much less now. After having seen the world, last year he attended his 70th high school reunion in Sacramento, rode a classic car in a Petaluma Veterans’ Parade, and even traveled to Michigan, where he reunited with the medic that treated him when he was wounded on Bouganville so long ago.
But though travel is more limited, he lives in a house filled with international memories, mainly of Japan. Shelves are full of Japanese souvenirs, pictures, and books. The windows are the traditional Japanese shoji, with small panes covered in translucent rice paper. Even the garden is filled with Japanese landscaping. He has taken the people and culture that were once his enemies and embraced them, and by founding the Sado Club, has opened up opportunities for many students from both sides of the world to develop international understanding.
With the help of the Hayward Rotary Club and the Hayward Education Foundation, the current teachers and principals of Sado and Hayward High Schools have the chance to do the same.