Bainbridge Rotary host Argentineans

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ROTARIANS, BOATERS and visitors gather after the tour.

MARIA THREATENS TO GO ahead and leave with Sole’ and Sabrina on board.


Over Easter weekend, members of the Bainbridge Rotary Club played host to a group of five visitors from Argentina.

The group is part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange (GSE). The five are in our Rotary District for a month while a similar group from our District visits Argentina. Rotary District 6900, of which the Bainbridge Club is a part, covers most of Atlanta, west to the state line and then south to the Florida line, all west of Interstate 75. The visitors began their tour of our District in Atlanta and now have wound their way through Americus, Camilla, Pelham and Bainbridge. From here they went on to Thomasville and Callaway Gardens.

While in Bainbridge, the team was treated to air boat rides on Lake Seminole in search of elusive alligators. They were impressed by the bird life and particularly the size of a swimming rattlesnake they happened to encounter. According to some team members, the air boat rides were No. 1 on their list of experiences so far, even above the NASCAR experience they had in Americus.

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Group Study Exchanges are just one of the programs of Rotary International designed to foster understanding and peace throughout the world. The tour of these Argentineans, including the old-fashioned hamburger cookout Saturday night, has certainly contributed to us knowing each other to a better degree.

A GSE team always includes a Rotarian as the leader, but the four other team members cannot be Rotarians. The purpose is to expose more and more people to our efforts of fostering understanding. For this group, Carlos Menquez was the chosen leader. He is a CPA by training, has a doctorate in economics, and currently works in private business producing paper pastry shells. He is the current president of his Rotary Club, the Gerli Este RC in District 4900, Buenos Aires. Carlos is married and has two children. His team consists of four members.

Two of the members are electronic engineers. Soledad Clar has a master’s degree and works for telecommunications companies in the area of product marketing and product management. Ernesto Barritta is tall, handsome, single and Latin, of course. It may be a good thing that he has gone already before he came into contact with local ladies. He also works in telecommunications, with the Movistar company in Buenos Aires.

Sabrina Rodriquez is the only married member of the non-Rotarian guests. She is a lawyer and is trying to perfect her English skills while in America.

The final member of the team already has great conversation skills. Maria Acosta, called Sole’, works as a translator and English teacher. She is a free spirit and has looked forward to a month learning about America. She said, “If they don’t hold my job for me, it wasn’t that great of a job anyway.”

The Argentinean team is experiencing once-in-a lifetime opportunities. Along the way, we are both learning more about each other.

As other GSE teams travel the planet in exchanges this spring, it may serve to make the planet seem a little bit smaller. May we all find common ground centered on family, relationships and the desire for a peaceful world.