Last Thursday, as we entered Portsmouth Country Club and were greeted by President-elect Nancy Notis, we all looked forward to our meal of Shepherd’s Pie and another exciting program.  Our meeting opened with a blessing by Reverend Allen, and in honor of our guest speaker, a special song:  Frère Jacques.  Our very own Dave Underhill and Leonard Seagren led us in this song which was sung, as appropriate, in the round.  Luckily, the song has only one verse, so after two go-rounds our varied vocal talents were put to rest for the day.


Guests were then introduced, including a fellow Rotarian visiting from Worcester, serving as a good reminder for us all to visit neighboring clubs when we get a chance.  Walter Liff was then brought to the stage to demonstrate his auctioneering prowess in offering us the chance to bid on a signed copy of a book about baseball memorabilia donated by last week’s guest Tom Zappala.  Rick Page was the lucky winner, although he did try to resell the book several times during the meeting.

A bevy of announcements were then made, bringing Bill Hurley up to the stage first to talk about the Hands on Project that occurred last Saturday, May 5th.  These projects are always a good way to get to know your fellow Rotarians in a more casual setting, and often also a good way to get a free donut and cup of coffee.


Joanie Dickinson was next up to the stage to thank everyone who attended or was involved in this year’s Rotary Auction.  She also wanted to ask for any feedback that would help to make next year’s even better!


Coming up next, Cathy Edison was pleased to announce a $2,000 donation on behalf of the Basic Needs Committee, and updated us in the search for matching contributions.


Stanford Cross then stepped up to the podium to let us know that volunteers were still needed for the Concessions Tent at this year’s Air Show.  A portion of the proceeds goes to the Club and he encouraged us to get spouses and family involved as well.

David Splaine was next up to talk about the upcoming annual Golf Tournament, with a call for foursomes and sponsorships.


The call for Vocational Award nominations was then made by Jon Pappas. These annual awards are given to non-Rotarian members of the community in the following categories:  Public Service, Education, Health & Human Services, and also in a General category.  May 17th is the deadline for nominations which can be made to any member of the committee or via a form available on the Portsmouth Rotary website.


And now came the main event, with today’s guest speaker Marie Cecile stepping up to the podium.  Introduced by Rick Page (anyone want to buy a book?), Marie was the Rotary sponsored high school exchange student from France.  All decked out in pins she collected while here, Marie told us a little about her life back home in France and also what she took out of her experience here. 

Marie is from a fairly small town (12,000 residents) called Vaux de Penil, which boasts a fine French castle and is about 45 kilometers from Paris.  Marie proceeded to show us pictures of some of the things she missed from home, like her house, family, cat, friends, but especially cheese! 


Although Marie couldn’t continue playing Rugby at Portsmouth High School, she did run Track and participate in the Ski Club to stay active.  Of the many differences in going to high school in the America, she was particularly impressed with the ways teachers always tried to keep learning fun, and also that she was able to be in classes with students from different grade levels.  While she’ll be happy to return to friends and family in France, she will definitely miss the friends (and tv shows!) that she got attached to while here.  Also, care packages including Pepperidge Farm Goldfish would be greatly appreciated.


Next came a bonus program on Group Study Exchange.  This year’s group featured 5 adults from Germany including a Mayor, Commercial Real Estate Agent, Photographer, and Auditing / Compliance professional.  While here for 30 days, these individuals stay with 10 different families while learning about how their profession is performed in America.  This program (which also has us sending 5 individuals from the district to Germany), is just another one of the many ways Rotary fosters learning and understanding across cultures.  Also according to Leonard, if you’re hosting, it’s a good way to kick back and have fun drinking rum and smoking cigars with someone from the Philippines.


Have a great week everyone!