The District’s 2009 Rotary Group Study Exchange team leaves on a five-week cultural and vocational exchange to Northern Australia on March 28th. The six member team will represent the international Rotary District 5060, which spans from Clearwater in British Columbia to Prosser, Washington and has 3000 Rotarians in 61 clubs. The team, led by Kathy Butler a Kelowna Rotarian and past president of the Rotary Club of Kelowna (Downtown), will stay with Rotarian families, experience the host country’s institutions, culture, including aboriginal cultures; while sharing knowledge with their professional counterparts and making presentations to Rotary clubs and other groups in Australia about the various regions within District 5060, plus share their Canadian and American culture.
Other members of the team are non-Rotarians: David Zirnhelt, an online furniture broker from Kamloops sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kamploops Daybreak; Andrew Van Dokkumburg, a mortgage specialist with Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union sponsored by the Salmon Arm Rotary Club; Chad Eliason, a Salmon Arm city councillor, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm – Shuswap; Erika Pfahl, a practicing pharmacist from Osoyoos and sponsored by the Osoyoos Rotary Club; and Erin Snelgrove, a journalist with the Yakima Herald and Rotary Club of Yakima – Downtown.
The team will make 18 vocational visits and club presentations, plus 16 formal visits and social events, as well as participate in the two-day Rotary District 9550 conference in Cairns, Queensland before returning to Kelowna on May 4th. Stops along the way include Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu National Park, Tennant Creek, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Charters Towers, Townsville, the Great Barrier Reef, Ingham, Mission Beach, Innisfail, Mareeba, Port Douglas and Cairns.
Funded by the Rotary Foundation through contribution from Rotarians, the Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers.
Covering 1.5 million square kilometers in the Northern Territory of Australia, District 9550 is vastly diverse. The region includes the World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Parks, the tropics, outback, multicultural Darwin. The District is renowned for agriculture, cattle, fishing, horticulture, mining, sugar cane and tourism.