Like a Deer in Headlights

March 18, 2011 by

At our District Conference, Andra led a Friendship Exchange Plenary Session today.  She did a great job, explaining the program.  The photos were beautifully representative.  The audience was attentive.    Then she publicly asked me to name my favorite experience.  Well, I flubbed it.  I panicked.  I couldn’t think. 

So to set the record straight, to give you the down and dirty, here is what I wish I had said:

We visited fabulous manor houses.  We saw beautiful gardens.  I drank all varieties of English ale.  I celebrated my birthday at a pub and played skittles.  I ate some fabulous food.  But my favorite experience?  It wasn’t really any of those things. 

It was the friendships I made and how they evolved.  Sharing intimate daily details of life over coffee and breakfast.  Being welcomed into a stranger’s household and made to feel like family.  Getting to know the household animals.  Meeting the family.  Watching videos and listening to music with my host on a rainy afternoon when I was too pooped for anything else.  Learning about the hosts’ gardens that were planted with such love.  Being allowed to participate in the household chores and duties.  Walking through the meadows in the village.      

That’s what the Friendship Exchange Program is about.  You don’t stay in hotels and deal with concierges.  For a short time, you become a part of the household and get immersed in your hosts’  lives. 

And that is what I wish I had said.  If I hadn’t panicked. 


Don’t Cry For Me, Carolina

September 22, 2010 by

Regular readers of this blog during our British Rotary Friendship Exchange have heard lots about a song called “Carolina.” Sue Read, team member from District 1070, wrote the song for the team to sing at parties while in the United States. Set to the tune of “Oh, Susanna,” it is quite funny.

Lloyd Mackall of Coastal Digital sent me a great video of the team performing the song for us at their farewell party in Pawleys Island. I’ve reproduced the words below. Enjoy!

We come from Eastern England District one oh seventy
We’ve flown across the world South Carolina for to see
The weather it is very nice no mist or fog or rain
And we’re thankful that we missed the very recent hurricane

Carolina oh don’t you cry for me
Cos we’re English, we are happy and we come from Rotary

Now some of you will know us well and some we have not met
And some of us we’re sure that you’re not likely to forget
Yet still we’ve come so many miles from way across the sea
To view just for ourselves this good old former colony

Carolina oh don’t you cry for me
Cos we’re English, we are happy and we come from Rotary

We thank you for the friendship and we thank you for the beer
We thank you for the fellowship of simply being here
And by the time we leave you if you are still quite sane
WE’ve love the chance to welcome you to England once again

Carolina oh don’t you cry for me
Cos we’re English, we are happy and we come from Rotary.

Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon

September 21, 2010 by

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When the English Rotary Friendship Exchange team was in Columbia, they were treated to a dinner cruise on Lake Murray by the Lexington Rotary Club. Rotarians from both sides of the Atlantic met on the tiny body of water that is Lake Murray for food, good times, dancing, and, apparently, some piloting of the boat around the lake.

If you want to enjoy some music while watching, here’s a fitting tribute to this outing for Team 1070.

It’s a Kind of Magic

September 20, 2010 by

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While we’re not done updating the blog for the England 1070/South Carolina 7770 Rotary Friendship Exchange, sadly the exchange came to an end tonight with a farewell party in Pawleys Island at the home of Johnny and Janette Weaver. The team feasted on more frogmore stew and another Southern delicacy I’d entirely forgotten – chicken bog. Clive even had his very own apple pie all to himself.

Past District Governor Alan Walters was on hand to see the fruit of the program he started, and GSE team leader to 1070 Dr. Bill Greene came out to spend the evening with our English guests. The team regaled us with two presentations, one on their District and the other on the community service projects they engage in at home. They sang their very entertaining version of “Carolina” again to resounding applause. To close the evening, we all stood in a circle, clasped hands and sang Auld Lang Syne.

It was fun, and it was bittersweet. John and I commented on how we’ve been working on this exchange for over a year from start to finish, and I will truly miss his regular messages in my inbox. Rotary Friendship Exchange is a kind of magic – one that leads people from around the world into life-altering experiences and true friendships. Please come back in the coming days as I finish uploading all the photos people are sending from around the District and continue to enjoy these lovely people from across the pond.

While you’re at it, click on the video below and bop along to Queen‘s “Kind of Magic,” the background of Team 1070’s presentation. It’s a fittingly upbeat tune to mark the occasion of the conclusion of our first-ever, official Friendship Exchange.

Meeting 7770 District Governor Rick Moore

September 19, 2010 by

The English team from 1070 had a special treat on this exchange when they got to meet Rotary 7770 District Governor Rick Moore and his wife Ann. DG Rick hosted a party in his home especially for the team, cooking up the grub himself on his grill. As we enjoyed ourselves on the porch, we watched the sun set over the marsh out back and chatted the night away.

Each team member was able to greet DG Rick, trade stories, and swap banners on his back porch. It was truly a lovely night.

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2001 A Space Odyssey

September 18, 2010 by

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Imagine that it is one week ago. Because we now have photos from the British Rotary Friendship Exchange team’s time in Columbia/Lexington, South Carolina, we’re going to bounce back in time and review their visit to our state capitol.

The team went to a tailgate for the University of South Carolina/University of Georgia football game. You will see a couple of photos from the tailgate in the slideshow. They were invited to several parties by complete strangers and were happy that the Gamecocks beat the Bulldogs 17 – 6.

On Sunday, the group went on a dinner cruise on Lake Murray, hosted by the Lexington Rotary Club. Dinner was delish, and the team enjoyed mingling with Lexington Rotarians and watching the sun set over the placid water of the lake.

On Monday, District 1070 Rotarians toured the Lexington Technology Center. They were given the grand tour, and were treated to lunch at the facility. All in all, their visit to the Columbia area was a hit.

Completely by accident, my husband and I were tooling around the backwoods of South Carolina today and happened upon a marker from the Revolutionary War. Can you English readers spy the familiar name in the slide show?

I Love Beach Music

September 17, 2010 by

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Last night, we had a great time and the Edisto home of Sam and Stella Hazel. The Walterboro Rotary Club prepared one of the best frogmore stews I’ve ever had. On my third plate full, I sent my husband to get it for me. The team ate their fill of shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes, which are the primary ingredients in the stew, along with a healthy helping of Old Bay Seasoning. We enjoyed lingering on the patio until the bugs forced us indoors for dessert.

The Walterboro folks didn’t disappoint in the dessert department, either. The spread included rum cake, pound cake and a generous pan of Southern banana pudding. Many of us tried all three. We watched some college football on television and chatted around in groups until several people decided to turn in.

A knot of us stayed up looking at all of Sam Hazel’s photos from the trip to England, and it was fun to see them together with some of the English team and to relive some of the things we did while there. Most likely, we were abominable slumber party companions, as we loudly recounted details of the trip while others tried to sleep, but it was fun.

Today, the team mostly enjoyed individual walks and swims along Edisto Beach. Peter and Christine told me they walked early this morning, just as the sun came up. Edisto is truly one of our loveliest beaches.

At noon, we all met Russ and Sue Campbell and Brenda and Phil Greer from the outgoing English team to make the transfer to the Pawleys Island Rotary Club. Seewee Cafe was our lunch spot, a dumpy jewel of a seafood restaurant along Highway 17 in Awendaw. I hope to have photos of their afternoon activities in the Pawleys Island area from someone up there tomorrow.


September 16, 2010 by

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As the official blog narrator, I have no idea what I have just uploaded as photos. I will report that the team moved from Walterboro to Edisto Island today. They had lunch at the Pavilion Restaurant in Couts Lounge facing across the ocean directly across to England.

After lunch, the team toured Botany Bay Plantation, an area controlled by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Jeff Rockwell, a friend of the Walterboro Rotary Club, took the team on a boat tour around Edisto Island. They are still seeking a real, live alligator but have yet to see one.

Tonight, the team had a frogmore stew party at the Edisto home of outgoing team members Sam and Stella Hazel. Lawton Huggins and Bucky McCormack of the Walterboro Rotary Club prepared the lowcountry grub for the team. Although the mosquitoes almost carried us away, we enjoyed it and moved inside to have banana pudding and pound cake for the pudding course.

Tomorrow, the team moves to Pawleys Island. Stay tuned for more photos

Lemme See Your Alligator

September 16, 2010 by

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The English Rotary Friendship Exchange team was busy on Wednesday in Walterboro, South Carolina. They were led on a guided walk through a lowcountry swamp, examining cypress trees and various wildlife. While I’m not sure if they saw a real-live alligator, there is a photo of one in the slideshow. You be the judge as to whether or not it is authentic.

The team did an official presentation at the Walterboro Rotary Club, home of area host Sam Hazel, one of the outgoing team members to England. The Walterboro Club meets at lunch in an air conditioned space, surely a break from the morning hiking. We’ve had cooler weather for the team the past couple of days, but I suspect it is still warmer than they’re accustomed to.

In the afternoon, the team toured the Artisan Center in Walterboro and walked around downtown for some shopping. The Christmas shop was obviously a big hit. Maybe a few English readers will be getting more than coal in stockings this year.

Tonight, the Walterboro Club hosted a cookout for the team. From the photos, I wish I’d been there. Did Stella and Sam teach the team to shag?

Thursday, the team moves to Edisto Beach. Yours truly will be there Thursday night and can correct any mistaken representations made on this blog due to overactive imaginations and filling in details without much interviewing.

Smokin’ Hot

September 14, 2010 by

The District 1070 RFE team moved from Lexington to Walterboro today, via a stop at a tobacco farm. Somewhere, South Carolina.

Rotarian Jim Barfield has assured me that I will have Lexington area photos tomorrow, so keep your eyes out for those. In the meantime, enjoy images of the team’s tour of tobacco barns, strawberry plants, and swimming pools. I miss these folks, and they’ve barely been gone from here.

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