Twenty members joined four guests this morning to welcome a spectacular Parksville sunrise.  Our guests included prospective member, Major Norman Hamelin who has recently been posted to the Salvation Army; Debbie Bentzen from Mount Arrowsmith Vaulters; and John and son David Hildebrandt from the Coombs 4-H Club.

Lynne Pearson spoke about the Foundation coin boxes during her Two Minutes of Rotary.  These boxes provide an easy way to donate and are also an ongoing reminder of your commitment to Rotary.  Just fill them up with your loose change; when full, give them to Lynne and she will register your donation with RI for a tax receipt.  If you don’t yet have a coin box, you can pick one up at the registration desk or get one from Lynne.

Our speaker this morning was our own Ron Dyck, now in his fifth year as Short Term Exchange Program (STEP) District Coordinator and Treasurer.  Ron began his talk by referring to a speech given by RI President, Sakuji Tanaka: “Youth Exchange students learn how people who seem so different are really the same.  They begin to appreciate what unites people everywhere.  They have a broader understanding of the world.  They come back as different people.”  In Ron’s view, there is no better way to ensure a peaceful world than to experience other cultures and begin to understand how other people think through developing friendships around the world.  Students who come back from an exchange have grown 4-5 years in the space of a single year.  STEP is also a family to family exchange, enabling parents to connect with other host families and establish their own friendships.

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Ron explained the process of arranging a Short Term Exchange.  He begins by negotiating with other districts around the world to find placements for students.  He then works with the high schools to solicit applicants.  Interviews are held to select those students who will be good ambassadors for Rotary and for Canada.  Students are given choices of places they would like to visit, and those they would prefer not to visit, but Ron makes the final decision as to their destination.  This past year, he had 35 applicants from the District, and 35 students came to District 5020 from other parts of the world.  He is hoping for 50 applicants next year.  More students mean more paperwork for Ron, but for him, the whole process is a lot of fun and the impact it has on these young people makes it all worthwhile.

Bill Rawlins thanked Ron for his presentation, noting that it was especially meaningful to hear it on a day that marks the 12th anniversary of 9/11.  Such programs serve to encourage world citizenship and a realization that we are all the same, both of which are necessary if we are ever to achieve world peace.

Garry Cox then took the floor to make two cheque presentations to groups that were part of the success of the RCMP Musical Ride.  Debbie Bentzen accepted the cheque on behalf of the Mount Arrowsmith Vaulters who put on a spectacular pre-show performance.  She thanked the Club for inviting the Vaulters to participate, as the Musical Ride was a great opportunity for them to become better known in the community as a group that empowers and builds self esteem among young people.  John and David Hildebrandt also received a donation on behalf of the Coombs 4-H Club for its work in cleaning out the stalls after the Ride, a job that all Rotarians were happy to forego.  Both groups were invited by Garry to mark their calendars for the Ride in 2017 which will be Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

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The following announcements were made:

  • Jo Dunn announced that the Coats For Kids Committee will meet next Tuesday and that we will be working with the Qualicum Beach Sunrise Club again on this project.  Cara will have volunteer sign-up sheets available once dates have been set.
  • President Bruce advised the members that he has delivered a cheque to the Parksville Rotary Club for their role in managing the parking at the RCMP Musical Ride.
  • John O’Brien announced that he is organizing a group to join the Port Alberni Arrowsmith Rotary Club at their breakfast meeting on Tuesday, September 24.  There will be a 6 am departure time.  John has a sign-up sheet for those interested.

Jo then filled in as the jokester as Al Cameron mysteriously disappeared just prior to being called on for his joke.  Ian Dewar performed admirably as Sergeant-at-arms, although his logic in appointing a “secret greeter” after the fact was called into question.  There were many Happy Dollars for the passion and commitment shown by Ron Dyck during his presentation.

Next Week’s Speaker:  Philip Shoesmith, Hopfingers U-Brew