Australians from Rotary International Friendship Exchange have been visiting North Dakota and Minnesota, returning a visit that American Rotarians paid to them earlier this year.
Brian Trenery, from Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia, and Thea Allan, from Maryborough, Victoria, Australia, representing District 9780, said the Rotarians have enjoyed staying with host families in Minot this weekend. On Saturday they had a chance to visit the commercial buildings at the North Dakota State Fair and to visit the state fair manager and state fair board.
"That was a blast," said Trenery.
Australian and American Rotarians have enjoyed making friends. Posed at the Scandinavian American Park in Minot are: Bruce and Linda Christianson of Minot, Jeff Balentine of Minot, Brian and Jenny Trenery, from Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia; Ian and Kathie Pitt, from Beaufort, Victoria, Australia; Thea and Terry Allan, from Maryborough, Victoria, Australia; Judy and Phillip Ross, from Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia; Anthony and Kerrie Ohlsen, from Beaufort, Victoria, Australia; Wayne and Gayle Barrett, from Portland, Victoria, Australia, and Bruce Walker of Minot.
They also attended the Foreigner concert, though the concert was cut short by bad weather.
Earlier this year Rotarians from this district visited Victoria. Minot Rotarian Bruce Christianson and his wife Linda were among those who made the trek to Australia. Late last summer Christianson saw a notice in the district newsletter for a call for interested Rotarians to be part of the exchange to Australia. It interested Christianson because the exchange included the Rotarians' spouse and he thought it would be interesting to travel to Australia. They were one of six couples from the district to go on the trip.
The program gives Rotarians and their families the opportunity to host and visit Rotarians around the world. In addition to experiencing other cultures and making lasting friendships, an exchange provides a strong foundation for carrying out other international activities and service projects, said Christianson. People participating on an exchange can learn how their vocations are practiced in other parts of the world; observe new customs and cultures; and promote an appreciation of cultural diversity worldwide.
Christianson said Rotary Friendship Exchanges are funded entirely by program participants. The local club provided a stipend to help with the expenses of the program, said Christianson. The Christiansons and their group visited Victoria and Southern Australia in Australia. Now the Christiansons are returning the favor by hosting some of the Australian visitors.
Allan said the group also greatly enjoyed a visit to the International Peace Garden this past weekend.
The Australians have noticed some differences between the two countries.
"You drive on a different side of the road," said Allan.
Trenery said he also noticed that the roads here are wider than in Australia and the vehicles seem a bit larger, probably because this region has colder weather than the mild winters in their part of Australia. It is currently winter in Victoria, but the most they would expect to see would be some frost on the ground and temperatures in the 30s.
Foods are also prepared a bit differently in Australia than in the United States, said Allan. She has never seen blue tortilla chips before, either.
Trenery said there are many similarities too and the two countries are more alike than different.
Trenery said he wishes more people would travel to other countries or even to different parts of their own country. It could only bring people closer together and help them become better friends, he said.