Group Study Exchange (GSE) is a cultural and vocational exchange program run each year for professional business men and women, aged between 25 and 40 years, in the early stage of their professional lives. The Rotary Foundation provides travel grants for teams of participants for exchange visits in a different country. For 4 to 6 weeks, team members study the host country’s institutions and way of life, observe how their own vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas. Each exchange team is comprised of a Rotarian acting as the team leader and four specially selected team members.
In 2015, Eric Neill from Frankston North Rotary, lead a team of young professionals from District 9820 on a visit to their sister District 2430 in Central and Eastern Turkey. The team consisted of an Environmental Consultant, a Mechanical Engineer, a Small Business Retail Owner and Cooking School, and a District Burn Planner from East Gippsland.
The exchange in Turkey was during the Centennial celebrations of the Gallipoli campaign. In mid April 2015, the team arrived in Istanbul, touring many wonderful sites. From there the exchange commenced. The group travelled through Turkey by plane (covering around 1900 km with four internal flights), fast train (covering around 240 km), and public buses and private vehicles (covering almost 300 km).
The GSE team visited 14 cities, made presentations at 12 Rotary club and combined club meetings, and made many vocational visits in each city. In total the team was involved with 21 Rotary clubs and gave their final presentation at the D2430 District Conference.
There were some extraordinary vocational events and cultural days. The Turkish hospitality, generosity and friendliness was wonderful. The host family discussions on many topics were great, and their food was equally amazing and plentiful.
The exchange was a fulfilling and life changing experience for all those involved from both countries. For a very interesting detailed diary of these events and experiences, please download and read the attached document.