Rotary District 5710 electronic newsletter, December 2010.
“Rotary Group Study Exchange Earns Gold Stars.” Study Exchange in Australia
South Austra-lia, one of six Australian states, is known for its many accomplish-ments, including the beautifully planned capitol of Adelaide. Surround-ing the lush metropolis is a “greenbelt” that is sacrosanct to develop-ment. Beyond the belt, numerous suburbs form a horseshoe-like shape around the city‘s perimeter, with the Gulf of Vincent to the im-mediate south. Our travels took us from one side of the “shoe” to the other – with geographic and climactic changes as different as you might find between California‘s Wine Country and the Canyon lands of Utah.
We began our Australian study exchange in the city of Gawler. Our second day on the continent started with a tour of Turretfield Agricultural Research Station – home to Dolly, the cloned sheep, and biological testing that may one-day lead to cures for many of our most debilitating diseases.
North of Gawler, we were introduced to the lush vineyards of Barossa, Claire, and Eden Valley. Along with the wine tasting, came an expansive education in viniculture. And just when I thought I was beyond carrying wine home from abroad, I found myself buying two bottles, a Reisling and a Syrah, from the Bethany vineyards. “For my husband,” I explained to the GSE team.
To the immediate west of Adelaide lies Mawson Lakes, home of District 9500‘s conference center. While attending the conference, we addressed over 400 participants, sharing American culture in general and more specifically the history, politics and art of Kansas. But our responsibilities didn‘t stop there. We were also the program for eight Rotary clubs while in Aus-tralia. Our presentations were uniformly met with dozens of questions about America, and we often performed for our meals by singing, “Home, Home on the Range.” The Aussies knew the words, and joined in with us.
While in Adelaide, numerous “vocational days” were booked for each of us. We were matched up with Australians that hold similar professions. Each GSE member spent hours, and sometimes days, with university staff, leading publishing houses, police detectives, children‘s health clinics, and non-profits with a mission to train young people in the many aspects of leadership.
Our farewell dinner, in Walkerville, was filled with wonderful memories and splendid complements. District Gover-nor, Ed King, praised our team for a “job well done.” We left Australia, the next day, having made life-long friends of our Rotarian hosts.
Come April 2011, our District will reciprocate the Australian generosity by welcoming their team to our great state of Kansas. We are already polishing up our singing, and I suspect they are doing the same. It wouldn‘t hurt to learn “Waltzing Matilda,”before they arrive.
Below is a glimpse of the GSE Team Blog and Ryan Wright‘s blog. If you haven‘t taken a peak at these yet, you are in for a real treat! Check out their YouTube “Farewell to District 9500” on the District website.