Rotary Club Host Argentine GSE Team
by Bob Augustin Jr.
The Lawrenceburg Rotary Club was honored to host the Group Study Exchange (GSE) Team from Rotary District 4790 in Argentina April 17 through April 20. Lawrenceburg is the team's first stop on a four week long tour of middle Tennessee. The Argentine GSE Team is led by Rotarian Analia Fernandez, left center, an English teacher at University from Resistencia. GSE Team members are Erica Burguener, center, a Physical Therapist in the Neonatal Intensive Care from Resistencia; Analia Coronel, bottom, an attorney at the Department of Minority and Family from Formosa; Mario Avalos, top, manager of a supermarker from Mercedes, Corrientes; and Martina Perduca, right center, who is studying for her PhD in food Science and Technology from Corrientes City.
Argentina comprises almost the entire southern half of South America, covering an area of 2.8 million square kilometers. Argentina possesses some of the world's tallest mountains, largest deserts, amazing glaziers and impressive waterfalls, with the diversity of the land ranging from wild, remote areas in southern Patagonia to the bustling metroplis of Buenos Aires in the north.
Rotary District 4790 is located in the northeast of Argentina and is comprised of the provinces of Chaco, Corrientes and Formosa. It is a flat uniform wooded plain, with a mostly subtropical climate. The area is wet, swampy and very hot during summer. The region has an extensive network of rivers and lakes which provide a habitat rich in food and shelter for large variety of plant and animal species. The largest river is the Parana which is the second largest river in South America. The vegetation is dense and characterized by trees that provide hard timber such as quebracho and algarrobo.
The Rotary Foundation’s Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for young businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40. The program provides travel grants for teams to exchange visits in paired areas of different countries. For four weeks, the team members live in the homes of Rotarians and tour the district. GSE Team members experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their personal vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.
Friday April 17
Rotarians Jack Grinnell and Bob Augustin Jr, both of alumni of past GSE Teams, met the Argentine GSE Team in Columbia Friday morning and escorted them to Lawreceburg. The team arrived in Lawrenceburg in time to attend the noon meeting of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club where they presented the a Power Point program on their home district in Argentina accompanied by Mario on the guitar. Each team member gave a brief talk about their home town and home district in Argentina.
At the meeting, Lawrenceburg City Manger William "Peewee" McClain, standing in for Mayor Keith Durham, presented each team member with a genuine Davy Crockett coon skin cap.
Following the meeting, the team toured Crockett Hospital where team member Erica Burguener, physical therapist, met with the hospital's Director of Physical Therapy Andy McCormick.
McCormick gave the entire team a tour of Crockett Hospital's outpatient Physical Therapy department and demostrated the PT equipment and discussed various PT techniques. In Argentina, Physical Therapist also do respiratory therapy, so arrangements were made for Erica to return to Crockett Hospital Monday morning and meet with Respiratory Therapy Supervisor Dana Thomas.
From the hospital the team proceed to the town square to have their photo made at the Davy Crockett Statue and for refreshments at Big City Deli. Then the team met with local attorney Jane Jennings at the Lawrence County Court House for a tour of the court rooms. Jane and team member Analia Coronel discussed legal procedures and issues. The team then went next door to the new Lawrence County Administration center where they were welcomed to Lawrence County by County Mayor Paul Rosson. County Mayor Rosson presented the team members with gifts to commemorate their visit to Lawrence County.
Following their meeting with County Mayor Rosson, the team members went to the homes of their home-stay families to rest and unpack. The home-stays are one of the most important aspects of the GSE program. Team members get to stay with the families of Rotarians to experience how families in other countries live. Team leader Analia Fernandez and Erica Burguener stayed with Rotarian Lori Cook. Analia Coronel stayed in the home of Jane and Dan Jennings. Martina Perduca stayed with Jack and Debbie Grinnell and Mario Avalos stayed with Bob and Cheryl Augustin.
That evening Rotary President Polly Marsh hosted a dinner for the GSE team and their home- stay family members at Chapparell Restaurant. Due to the team members being weary from their trip from Argentine the day before, the team returned to the homes of their home-stay families about 9:00 PM to get some much needed sleep.
Saturday April 18
Saturday morning Rotarian Bob Augustin Jr. took Mario Avalos, who manages his families supermarket, to Kroger supermarket to tour the store. Mario met Kroger employee Dave Ray and was welcomed by store manager Brock Peters who offered to answer any questions Mario might have about the store's operation.
The team then travelled to Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniel Distillery and tour the local shops on the Lynchburg square. Three things that Tennessee is known for around the world are country music, Elvis, and Jack Daniel whiskey.
Later that evening Bob and Cheryl Augustin hosted a musical get together for the team members and host families. Mario, with his fellow team members, sang traditional Argentine songs, and a few recogizable pop songs in Spanish, from his home land and accompanied himself on guitar. Joining in on the picking were Randy Alley on guitar and mandolin, Whitney Slater on fiddle, Anne Scott on guitar, and Bob Augustin on guitar.
The group spent the evening trading songs: Mario would play a traditional Argentine song and then the folks from Lawrence County would play a bluegrass song or a pop song. After refreshements, the team members played a CD of Agentine folks songs and demonstrated some of their local dances.
Sunday April 19
The team members attended Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Sunday morning. After Mass, Father Joseph Mandakal, parish priest at Sacred Heart, welcomed the group to the parish.
The GSE team toured the Amish community during the afternoon. That evening, Jack and Debbie Grinnell hosted a cook out for the GSE team at their home.
Monday April 20
Erica spent the morning at Crockett Hospital with Respiratory Therapy Supervisor Dana Thomas. Post Master Lori Cook gave the remainder of the team a tour of the Lawrenceburg Post Office. Rotarians Maria Santini-Bolin, Lori Cook and Bob Augustin Jr. delivered the GSE to the Pulaski Rotary Club for its noon meeting. The Lawrencburg Rotarians said a reluctant good-bye to the GSE team, wished them a safe trip in Middle Tennessee and made plans to see them again at Rotary District Conference in Brentwood May 16. For additional photos, click Photo Album
To follow the GSE teams travels in Tennessee, go to http://igetennessee2009.blogspot.com/.