In 1992 my wife Marilyn and I were visiting friends in Ottawa, Canada where we attended a crafts show. At this show Marilyn bought an interesting brooch made from a postage stamp mounted on a polished piece of thin copper plate and then protected by a coating of polyurethane.
When we got back home to Lake Forest, Illinois, Marilyn challenged me to make an even better brooch. My first ones were made from a stamp commemorating the Chinese new year which I made ten of to give to our guests at a New Year’s party we held. I continued to make them to give to relatives, friends and acquaintances.
In 2001 our club, FF of Northern Illinois hosted guests from The Friendship Force of Moscow. It was my pleasure to give each of the ladies from Moscow at least one of my brooches as a remembrance.
In 2003 our club visited The Friendship Force of Tokyo and The Friendship Force of Ehime of Japan. Again I brought about 30 of the pins as gifts or tokens of thanks. Our hosts in Ehime, Hiroyuki and Ayako Otsubo found the pins so interesting that they insisted I show them how I made them so they could do the same. I did and soon they were on their way to being Master Pin Makers. They gave me many attractive stamps for me to take home and when I got home I returned the favor by sending them many US postage stamps as well as colorful foreign ones.
In July and August they did home stays with The Friendship Force of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Upon their return to Japan, I received the following information in an E-mail: “We have a big news to you. One day we took a bus trip from Moscow to suburb. A member of Moscow club lead us. She was very kind, so we gave her a brooch with our thanks. Hiroyuki made it by your teaching. She surprise very much and said she had same one. Her name is Irina Daragan. She went your state last year (or 2 years ago) and took a drive by your car. It was wonderful meeting for us. She said “this was the true Friendship.” Do you think so?”
Irina Daragan was the Exchange Director on the Moscow visit to Northern Illinois and I had day hosted her and some of the others for three days. Friendship Force really makes the Big World Smaller.
Submitted by Alan Melkerson