So We’re From Canada EH!

Rotary’s 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. The program provides travel grants for teams to exchange visits in paired areas of different countries. For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country’s culture and institutions, observe how their occupations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.

For the last four weeks we’ve been fortunate to have the company of the visiting GSE team from Rotary District 5550 which spans Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada. As their visit to this country draws to end Tettenhall had the great pleasure of hosting a Farewell Rally for the team – an opportunity for the team members to let us know what they’d learnt and experienced during their visit and to thank the Rotarians who had made the visit possible whether by hosting them in their homes or by arranging the extensive program of social events and occupational visits.

Team member Alicia Smith works in the water industry back home in Moose Jaw . Whilst here Alicia has had the opportunity to spend time with South Staffordshire Water, Severn Trent and OFWAT. Her fellow team member Jody Jury works on the family farm in Neepawaand. The visit here gave her the opportunity to visit Harper Adams University, to spend time with a number of local farmers and to gain an insight into different farming methods. Probation Officer Brennan Brooks from Saskatoon had the opportunity of not only seeing the operation of his English counterparts but was also able to spend time with Walsall magistrates to gain an insight into their decision making process. Brennan has been particularly impressed by the work of the Drug Rehabilitation teams which he met. For Shauna McKim a police officer from Regina, it must have seemed like business as usual with visits to five police stations and the opportunity to be involved in the arrest and processing of suspect whilst visiting Hanley.

The team was led by Rotarian Dave Bennet, a retired teacher, who was himself given the opportunity to visit a number of schools, colleges and universities whilst with us and even to step back in front of the blackboard again.

Its not been all work for the team though with time for boat trips on the local canals, and visits to Alton Towers, JCB, Wroxeter, the RAF Cold War Museum, Stafford Castle and the Black Country Museum.

The team have been excellent ambassadors for their Rotary District and for their country. We hope that the experiences which they have had will help them in the development of their careers, that the friendships they have made will last a lifetime and that they have a safe journey back to Canada.

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