Rotary Friendship Exchange brings visitors from India to Wautoma
When Wautoma Rotary Past-President Peder Culver received an inquiry from the club’s district seeking volunteers to host a couple from India as part of the Rotary International’s Friendship Exchange in early 2016, Peder, was interested immediately.
With Peder’s wife, Jennifer, on board as well as their 11-year-old daughter, Cami, Peder took the idea to the local Rotary Club meeting to see if anyone else would be interested in hosting a family. Sharon Marek was interested as well, but since there weren’t enough couples to host, Marek assisted the Culvers with taking their couple on trips to Chicago to visit the Rotary International Headquarters and a temple as well as a stop at the Dopp Dairy Farm and Wild Rose Fish Hatchery.
After working with the Rotary International coordinators, the Culvers opened their home to Ramesh and Asha Chand for 10 days, from May 26 to June 2, concluding their visit to Wisconsin with a trip to Milwaukee to take part in the Rotary Club District Conference.
The international friendship exchange program through Rotary Club International allows participants to take turns hosting one another in their homes and clubs, which Peder and Jennifer plan to take part in with a visit to India in January of 2018.
The program allows club members the opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture and build a global understanding, boost professional and leadership skills and provide cultural experiences, activities and build friendships.
While preparing for their visitors, Peder and Jennifer did not know what to expect and didn’t receive the names or contact information of their visitors until about a month prior to their visit.
“I had (Ramesh’s) email address so I reached out to him and said we were their hosts,” Peder said. “Jen was good about having me ask him what comforts they would like, if they had to pick a couple things that would make them comfortable what would they be. They said they were interested in green tea with curd.”
The Chands flew into Chicago where the Culvers picked them up and brought the couple back to their home in Wautoma. The first few days they were here Peder and Jennifer wanted to play it a bit more low-key since the couple had just traveled 20 hours on a plane and were still adjusting to the time difference.
“We did the Chain O’ Lakes on the boat the first day,” said Jennifer. “Then the next day we went down near Devil’s Lake, Cave of the Mounds and House on the Rock. So we kept it light but kind of showed them rural Wisconsin.”
When hosting someone from another country, often times the language barrier comes into play but the Culvers found the Chands spoke English, and the struggle only came as they realized it was in a different type of dialect.
“They learn British English, which has a slightly different terminology for words than we have, so they are used to hearing British English and also talking British English, so just sometimes the terms they would use aren’t our everyday slang or usage so some of it was a language barrier and some of it was honestly British English to American English – there was a slight difference.”