Today, I experienced my first encounter with a cultural and language immersion. I attended the breakfast meeting of the Rotary Club St-Nicolas Chutes-de-la-Chaudièr. “Bonjour,” I said haltingly. Then, I introduced myself in English as a visiting Rotarian from Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The French-Canadians apologized for their lack of English and I for my lack of French. Smiles and handshakes sufficed for the lack of words.
Like many Rotary Clubs, this one began with a prayer and acknowledgement of guests. In the tradition of Rotary, I exchanged my Greensburg Club banner with Club Président Michel Dionne and received his Club’s banner in return. There was no program planned, so the Club members engaged in a lively discussion about an upcoming event. Bridgette, who sat next to me, whispered sporadic translations. And, then we all shared a laugh. One fellow suggested that as a birthday gift for another Rotarian named Philip, I take him on a trip - but only 50 kilometers - in our Prevost coach. “Oui,” I agreed. “That would be okay.”
Attending Rotary Club meetings is important to me because I met people in the communities I visit. It builds goodwill and friendship – the pillars of Rotary. I plan to “do make-ups” while on the road whenever possible and record my attendance with my home club secretary.
I am one of the 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide. Our motto is “Service Above Self.” As an international service club, Rotary International can do things governments cannot like funding projects to immunize children against polio, bring relief to survivors of natural disasters, give communities access to water, and many more humanitarian projects abroad and in our own communities.
I have been a Rotarian for nearly 18 years placing me among the first women to join Rotary. I served a term as President of the Greenburg Rotary Club (their first female president) in 1995 -1996. And, I have maintained memberships in the Rich-Mar and Tyler clubs when I lived in Gibsonia, PA and Whitehouse, TX respectively. When we sold our home in Texas, members of the Greensburg Club welcomed me back to my old homestead.
Since beginning this journey with Ed, I have visited several other clubs - Edinboro, PA, Watkins Glen, NY, and Canton, NY. I know when and where clubs meet because I have a club directory listing this information. Club information is also available online. When my travels just do not coincide with a location, I use eClub1. This online option of making up a meeting lets me read about a topic of interest to me about Rotary. Then, I submit my participation electronically to my club and receive credit for attendance.
So look for the Rotary decal on my coach window and get my make-up card ready. I’ll be there for breakfast, lunch or dinner.