Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ambassadorial Link Weekend in Exeter, Devon

Carrying the London 2012 Olympic Torch at the evening Ceilidh
Presentations at the 800 year old Civic Guildhall in Exeter
I traveled two hours, southwest on the National Rail, to the beautiful and historic land of Exeter, Devon.  The event was designed to be a meet and greet with approximately 60 Ambassadorial scholars studying in Scotland, Ireland, and Great Britain.  This was a fully packed weekend with presentations from the Lord Mayor of Exeter and other Rotary members.  We also had a 3 hour Red Coat Tour where we saw some of Exeter's historical sites.  At the station, I was greeted by my Rotarian host, Terry Blackler of the Otter Valley club.  Terry and his wife, Anne, were such generous, accommodating and hospitable people.  They live outside Exeter in the countryside and it was a nice change especially coming from the city.  My first night, I was invited to a barbeque at the Otter Valley Club hall.  I met the current club president and discovered that he was knighted by the Queen, carrying the title of "Sir".  His name was Sir John Evans and although he is now retired, he served as the police Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall.  We also served as the head of the entire Police Association in England.  I really enjoyed myself and the time spent with my hosts.  Anne, prided herself to enculturate me with British beer, breakfast, corned beef hash, and the acquired taste of Marmite.  I do hope to visit them again before my study in London is over.  The height of the weekend's events was the evening Ceilidh, which is a Gaelic social gathering, involving a Gaelic folk band playing music and, of course, scholars dancing. No one could escape participating, but it was all good fun with plenty of laughing. 
My host Terry Blackler in his lovely home. Picture taken by his wife, Anne
Each Rotary event I take part in, I learn more details about RI's mission to promote health, support education, and to alleviate poverty.  It is a good reminder of what I represent and how my own personal mission is in line with RI.  This Link Weekend proved to be an invaluable opportunity to experience great British and Devonian hospitality through staying with my Rotarian family and to meet and establish life-long friendships with other scholars from around the world.

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