"If it had not been for the Rotary Group Study Exchange program, we'd have never dreamt of coming to Alaska," said P. Kavery Medappa, of Tamilnadu, India, a member of the most recent Rotary GSE to visit Alaska.
The five-member team was made up of young professionals from India that included a tax consultant, journalist, attorney, and family physician.
The Group Study Exchange (GSE) is a program of Rotary International and is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for business and professional men and women in the early stages of their careers. The program is designed to develop professional and leadership skills among young adults to better prepare them to address the needs of their communities. Additionally it offers personal experience and understanding of the emerging global workplace.
"This exchange will help in a longer way to promote understanding and peace between our different cultures. We have built some very strong friendships in our time in Alaska. No doubt that Rotary through the efforts of these programs is producing real results toward world peace," said GSE Team leader T.C. Narayanan, a tax consultant from Tamilnadu, India.
"I have been very impressed by the spirit of this place and it's people. It's one thing which I shall treasure all my life. Here people just go ahead and make life happen," said Jemima Raman, a journalist and reporter from Anna Salai, Chennai, India. Raman, found many similarities between the journalism of her country and the media in Alaska, stating that sensationalism is what dominates the media of India as well.
She minimized the concern for nuclear war between India and Pakistan stating that it is an issue that has been going on for more than 50 years, "Maybe we've gotten use to it, but I think that a lot of the concern is due to sensationalism from the media," said Raman.
After an evening presentation for the Soldotna and Kenai Rotary Clubs, GSE team member Devika Rani, an attorney and actress, was accompanied by Steve Stenga on a late night daylight hike up the Skyline trail. It was a great opportunity to get to know people of another culture and experience Alaska through the eyes of someone who was seeing it for the first time, said Stenga.
GSE opportunities are available for local professional people between the ages of 25-40. The host country is determined prior to a team member's application and selection. The GSE experience spans 4-6 weeks, and is sponsored by the Rotary Foundation. For information locally on participating in a Rotary GSE, contact Jerry Near at 262-4461, or visit the Rotary website at www.rotary.org/foundation.
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