The Press Newspaper
So, you are a young professional who would like to see how others go about your line of business in other countries?
If you are between the ages of 25 and 40, the opportunity is here, if you act quickly.
The Rotary Clubs of Northwest Ohio are seeking young professionals to participate in a cultural exchange with southeast and central India for four weeks from Jan. 15-Feb. 15, 2013. You must respond with an application by September 1 of this year.
“That sounds like a long time away, but it really means, since there is training involved, and you’ve got to worry about arrangements, you really have to have this group in place by October 1,” said District 6600 Rotary Group Study Exchange Chairman Ron Stoner, who spoke at the Oregon-Northwood Rotary’s weekly breakfast.
This Northwest Ohio’s District 6600 GSE program began in 1967 and since then there have been 32 exchanges, including the first with Iceland and recent exchanges with France, Japan, Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Pakistan, Argentina, the southern part of South Korea in 2011, and last year the district exchanged with Italy’s District 2090.
From May 15-June 13 of this year, a six-member Northwest Ohio GSE team visited Italy’s Adriatic Coast plus Umbria, while a six-member team from Italy visited Toledo, Vermilion, Fremont, Mansfield, and Defiance.
Typically, teams are limited to five members, four professionals and a team leader, but the district decided to provide for one additional professional last year. Those five professionals were chosen from nine applications, which Stoner said is more than usual.
“I don’t know why it is? This is such a great program,” Stoner said. “We’re usually scratching to find applicants, especially for Italy, which seemed like such a great place to go.”
Stoner, a retired Bowling Green State University astronomy professor and 13-year Rotarian, said the purpose of the GSE, a program of the Rotary Foundation, is to promote international understanding and goodwill through person-to-person contact and to provide international professional development opportunities for the participants.
Stoner said it is also an opportunity to develop professional relationships and exchange ideas. For the Rotary, it is their chance to recruit young Rotarians who were not previously members.
“The cultural exchange actually works pretty well,” Stoner said. “The personal development, if it works well, the people we send will (learn). Suppose we send a doctor to Italy, for example, the doctor then learns systems in Italy and vice versa.
“We had a doctor visiting us from Italy this year and she found out the American health system is quite different than the Italian. She took that information back and sometimes they learn information that is positive and helpful to them.
“It even goes so far as, in this case when an Italian came to our district, almost all of them are looking for jobs in the USA,” Stoner continued. “The Italian economy has sort of tanked, and I think five out of the six actually had interviews scheduled. Since we are a country of immigrants, actually it’s not a bad deal to bring some really talented young people here.”
While in India next year, five more GSE team members, led by a Rotarian will tour the Rotary district of their hosts, which could include moving to a new location every several days. Meanwhile, a team from Indian while arrive here in May 2013.
In a typical four-week tour, applicants participate in five full days of vocational visits, 15 to 20 club presentations, 10 to 15 formal visits and social events, two to three days at the district conference, three to four hours per day of cultural and site tours, and three to four hours per day of free time with host families.
“Everybody gets a lot out of this,” Stoner said. “The host family gets a lot out of it, the local Rotary clubs, because it gets them programs for the local Rotary clubs, gets a lot of out of this. It’s a very positive program, actually.”
The Rotary Foundation provides round-trip air travel. Local Rotarians will provide meals, lodging and travel within the Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Team members pay only for personal and incidental expenses.
Besides the age requirement, applications must be U.S. citizens. They cannot be spouses or descendants of Rotary members and must have been employed full time in a profession for at least two years.
Applications must have an up-to-date passport, live or work within Rotary District 6600, and they must be sponsored by a local Rotary.
If you are a Rotarian and wish to be a team leader, it is suggested you speak the host country’s language, have organizational and leadership skills, have interpersonal skills, and have experience traveling abroad.