San Lee Sunrise Rotary Club’s Leslie Cox with his group study exchange team from North Carolina at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club for the Rotary Conference.
San Lee Sunrise Rotary Club’s Leslie Cox with his group study exchange team from North Carolina at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club for the Rotary Conference.

Americans loving their experiences

FROM North Carolina to Northern New South Wales, six residents of the USA have discovered a new way of life – and they don’t want to leave it behind.

The group – including a poet, an urban planner, a banker, a packing engineer and an environmental consultant – was granted a 30-day journey to Australia as part of a Rotary group study exchange.

Arriving on March 19, the group has travelled to Sydney, Stanthorpe, Tenterfield, the Gold Coast, Lismore and Yamba in a tour designed to achieve a greater understanding of another country and its people.

Yesterday, their exchange route reached its pinnacle when the group arrived in Grafton ahead of this weekend’s Rotary International District Conference.

The exchange is for non-Rotarians, but is paid for by the Rotary Foundation.

The group’s leader, Rotarian Leslie Cox, said the tour aimed to achieve ‘world understanding, peace and friendship’. “It’s all about the exchanging of ideas and communicating with each other,” Mr Cox said.

Mr Cox, who travelled to Australia on a group study exchange in 1975 while in his 20s – then as a non-Rotarian – said this year’s opportunity was like ‘lightning striking twice’.

In the past four weeks, the group has stayed with eight different host families, an experience Mr Cox will attempt to recreate back home.

“I’ve been inspired,” he said. “I want to do as much as I can to continue what the Rotary Foundation has started.”

The group will attend what Mr Cox described as the ‘crescendo’ to their trip – the District Conference at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club – this weekend before flying home on Monday.

One member, urban planner Matthew Johnson, summed up their adventure succinctly: “We don’t want to leave,” he said.

The reciprocal group study exchange was established about three years ago and Clarence Valley people will next year have the opportunity to travel to North Carolina

The district conference starts tomorrow and boasts a number of notable speakers, including Yamba’s own Kay Cottee, AO, pictured.

Ms Cottee will address the audience at 9am on Sunday and entry is free.

Details: Denis Green on 0418 204 046.



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