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The Rotary Club of
Cuckfield & Lindfield


Group Study Exchange 2003

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District 1250 GSE team tour in Australia 2003
— report by John Davey, team leader

 

Having been an avid traveller all my life and having always recognised the truth of the old maxim that ‘travel broadens the mind’, it was with great enthusiasm that I accepted the invitation of District 1250’s GSE Committee to lead the team due to visit District 9500 in South Australia. I knew that I was going to enjoy the experience – little did I realise just how much I was going to enjoy it!

Team Selection

Each Club in District 1250 was invited to put forward one or more candidates for the consideration on GSE committee. Disappointingly, only 9 completed applications were received and, of these, 3 were subsequently withdrawn. However, the 6 remaining candidates proved to be a very strong list and, after interviewing each candidate, the committee finally selected a team of 4 – including our Cuckfield & Lindfield nominee, Stuart Magowan - with the other 2 interviewees being asked to stand by as reserves.

The GSE team

Several meetings were held during the lead up to the Exchange visit and the members of the team quickly established an excellent rapport. I cannot recall any friction or unpleasant moments throughout the entire 5 weeks that we spent together in Australia.

Timing

By the mutual agreement of all 4 District Governors involved, the Group Study Exchange between District 1250 and District 9500 is set to take place over the Rotary years 2002/2003 and 2003/2004. It was decided initially that the team from District 1250 should visit District 9500 during the period 8th March – 4th April 2003, and it has subsequently been agreed that the team from District 9500 will visit District 1250 during the period 27th April –25th May 2004.

Preparation

Prior to the commencement of the visit to Australia, the team held a series of 6 meetings for the purpose of planning and preparation. These meetings provided an opportunity for the communication of much administrative detail and for the team members to become better acquainted. Well before our departure date there had been developed an excellent team spirit and a happy camaraderie between all the individuals concerned.

It was agreed that there should be 2 different styles of dress. For the more formal occasions, navy blue blazers (with Rotary badges) would be worn over a white blouse or shirt with stone coloured skirts or trousers. For informal occasions, bottle green and navy blue polo shirts bearing the Rotary logo were purchased from our District ‘shop’.

Each member of the team undertook to prepare 2 short presentations – one covering his or her occupation and work environment, and the other covering the area in which he or she lived and the day to day life of the community. Each presentation was supported by slides, and Stuart Magowan applied his skills to incorporate them into a series of PowerPoint files that were then burned onto a CD-Rom. At the same time, enquiry was made of hosting Clubs in Australia concerning the availability for the use of the team of the necessary laptop and projector equipment. (As a back-up, overhead projector transparencies were produced for each slide but it was never necessary to revert to this style of presentation in Australia.)

During the course of the preparatory meetings attention was given to the following topics:
…General purpose of GSE and individual objectives
…Travel documentation
…Design and production of Banners and Visiting cards
…Public Speaking skill development
…Delegation of responsibility among team members

Close communication was maintained between the team and those responsible for organising the programme in Australia. In particular, regular email communication with Professor Denis Ralph, Chairman of the District 9500 GSE Committee, proved essential for the resolution of several last minute enquiries.

Programme

Although District 9500 is many times larger in land area than District 1250, the 2 Districts are remarkably similar when Rotary statistics are considered. District 9500 has 51 Clubs mostly situated in and around Adelaide but with a few scattered northwards as far as Alice Springs in the Northern Territories. District 1250 has 59 Clubs in an area roughly the same as that of Greater Adelaide. In both Districts, the average Club membership is just over 30 with a total membership for District 9500 of 1550 Rotarians and for District 1250 of 1800 Rotarians. (It is worth noting that, while the population density of District 1250 is 1,375 per square mile, that of District 9500 is just under 4 per square mile!)

During the tour, the GSE Team was hosted by 5 Clubs – Elizabeth, Adelaide Light, Clare, Port Pirie and Adelaide West.

Itinerary

5th March Departure from London for Singapore
6th March Overnight stop in Singapore
7th March Departure from Singapore to Adelaide via Sydney
8th March Team met and welcomed at Adelaide airport by DG Peter Rostron and members of District 9500 GSE Committee. (The team much appreciated the provision of first night hotel accommodation to enable them to ‘sleep off’ their jet lag!)
9th March Team briefing by District 9500 GSE Committee, followed by introduction to hosts and transportation to Elizabeth
10th March Visits to North Adelaide Waste Management
  District 9500’s ‘Donations in Kind’ project
  Les Brazier Special Vehicles (for handicapped persons),
  Central Districts Football Club
  Presentation at Rotary Club of Elizabeth evening meeting
11th March Vocational visits
12th March Civic Reception given by the Mayor of Playford
  Scenic tour of Para Wirra National Park, Barossa Valley and the Whispering Wall Dam
13th March Sight seeing tour of the South Coast and visit to Urimbirra Wildlife Park
14th March Transfer to hosts from the Rotary Club of Adelaide Light
  Tour of Mawson Lakes Technology Park
15th March Day free with hosts
16th March Ocean yacht racing with Rotarians
17th March Vocational visits
18th March Visit to the Dame Roma Mitchell Arts Centre
  Visit to Adelaide’s Central Market
  Evening walk at the Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary
19th March Civic Reception given by the Lord Mayor of Adelaide
  Tram ride to Glenalg
20th March Presentation at Rotary Club of Adelaide Light breakfast meeting
  Transport to Mildura
  Boarded houseboat on River Murray
21st/22nd March Free time on houseboat – sailing on the River Murray
22nd March District Governor’s Dinner at Mildura
23rd March Presentation at District 9500 Conference – Mildura
  Transport to Clare and handover to Clare hosts
24th March Tour of Clare Valley Wine production
  Presentation at the Rotary Club of Clare evening meeting
25th March Day free with hosts
26th March Vocational visits
27th March Meeting with the Mayor of Clare
  Tour of local attractions
  Farewell BBQ
28th March Transport to Port Pirie and handover to Port Pirie hosts
29th March Tour of Pasmico Smelters
  Seafood Extravaganza – Polio Plus fundraising event
30th March Presentation at the Rotary Club of Port Pirie lunchtime picnic
31st March Vocational visits
  Reception given by the Mayor of Port Pirie
1st April Press and media interviews
  Visit to Aborigine Building and Construction project
  Transport to Port Wakefield and handover to Adelaide West hosts
2nd April Visit to Hahndorf and to Murray Bridge races
3rd April Visit to Tandanya – Aborigine Culture Centre
  De-briefing with District 9500 GSE Committee
  Presentation at Farewell Dinner meeting of the Rotary Club of Adelaide West
4th April Departure from Adelaide for Singapore via Melbourne
  Overnight stay in Singapore
5th April Departure from Singapore for London
6th April Arrive home
 

Conclusion

The team members were full of appreciation for the varied and well ‘paced’ programme that had been prepared for them and we recognised the enormous amount of work that had been done by District 9500’s GSE Committee in order to ensure the success of our visit.

Such was the value of the vocational visits that a general feeling emerges from the individual reports that team members would have welcomed the opportunity to spend even more time on their specific vocational pursuits. Perhaps an opportunity for the team to review the planned programme ahead of the visit might have enabled this proposal to be incorporated. There can be no doubt, however, that the vocational visits made in Australia gave the team members much to contemplate as they returned to their widely differing careers in the UK.

One of the fascinating aspects of the Rotary Foundation’s GSE programme is that each exchange visit is a unique experience for those who participate whether as team members, team leader or as a host. It is therefore impossible – and probably meaningless – to make any attempt to draw comparison with what has happened previously. Suffice it to say, perhaps, that this was a GSE visit that was full of fun and laughter, full of light hearted teasing about the cultural differences that emerged between England and Australia, full of new experiences, full of educational benefit and – most importantly – full of opportunities to make new and lasting friendships. I believe that we “sowed the seeds of love” across international frontiers.


John Davey — May 2003

 
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