South Africa

South Africa
The Rainbow Nation

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Putting the Whipped Cream on the GSE Cake!!

"Oops, I messed up again!"

"Okay Will, it can't be that bad - being with 5 women! So wake up;you have 5 weeks with 4 of them."

DG Mary giving us last minute instructions. What a great supporter she is!

"Annie, you behave and keep this team excited;I know you can do it."

Putting the Whipped Cream on the GSE Cake!!

Blog for Aug. 18 – 6th Training Session

Getting it right!! District Gov. Mary took time out of her extremely busy schedule (visiting clubs) and helped the GSE Team to S. Africa do its final preparation on Saturday, August 18th. Throughout the training, DG Mary has shown tremendous support for us and has continued to send us encouraging words. With much gratitude, we represent her and Rotary District 7770, the # 1 District in Annual Programs Fund giving in the world. What more could we ask for than to go with her blessing and the support from Rotarians all over our District!

Lights! Camera! Action! DG Mary and her professional crew set us up to be part of her District Conference video. There was only one hitch; standing outside with our formal uniforms on in the heat of the day. Would you believe 100 F!
But, we performed so well, that DG Mary said the first time was a hit. Thank goodness for those little favors. Look for us on the District Conference video and plan to attend the Conference in Myrtle Beach. Come and hear for yourselves what really happened in S. Africa.

Practice, practice, practice! That is what our advisor, Rick Melton- District GSE Coordinator, told us to do. We followed his advice with 3 practice sessions on
Saturday. “Okay Team, I suppose three times are enough!” “Rick you will be proud of us.”

God has chosen four great team members for whom I am thankful. As we leave, we each go with a passion to make a difference. My desire and prayer is that we develop a project between Districts 7770 and 9320 to serve aids orphans. Annie’s goal is to determine how she as a medical professional can contribute to the eradication of HIV/AIDS. Andrea desires to meet and understand the people and culture of S. Africa. As a law enforcement professional, Loretta’s goal is to understand and compare the criminal justice and law enforcement systems of both countries. It is her desire to contribute to the improvement of the systems in both countries. The young man on our team, Will, desires to investigate the use of technology in S. Africa’s educational system.

While each of us has his/her own goals, the team has become unified in its goal of “Service Above Self.” We will all be involved in visiting aids orphanages and determining what we can offer. There will be numerous opportunities because in S. Africa alone, there are 2.2 million aids orphans and 1.1 million of those are infected. Won’t you join us in praying that our GSE will prove beneficial for millions of children.

The Team departs from the Columbia Airport on Thursday, August 30 at 11:44 A.M. It would be great to have some of you come to our departure party and give us your blessing. Bob Montgomery has reserved the Carolina Center in the airport where we can meet, fellowship, enjoy some breakfast goodies and bid farewell to our families and friends. Meet us at the Delta Ticket Counter at 9 A.M. or come directly to the Carolina Center. We will leave the Carolina Center at 10:30 A.M.

Will you come and wish us “Bon Voyage” and encourage us as we leave to share Rotary in S. Africa?

Elizabeth Smith, GSE Team Leader

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Meeting 5.

Will listens as team members from the GSE to India speak.

Will and Loretta enjoy lunch.

Andrea organizes all the beautiful cards given to us by DG Mary.

Dr. Smith goes by the name "Picky Eunice" when it comes to lunch.

Annie keeps her eye on Rick's chocolate cake.

Meeting 5.

WOW! Time has really flown by for our GSE team since we began preparing for our incredible journey back in May. On the morning of Saturday, August 11, 2007, the team once again convened at Sumter Family Health Center, in Sumter, SC for its 5th meeting; only one more meeting to go before departure!
After our opening and prayer by Dr. Smith, we had the pleasure of receiving some “Words of Wisdom” from Past District Governor Bernie Riedel; or “PDG Bernie” as Dr. Smith likes to call him! J What a man of strong character and incredible knowledge! The team squirmed a little as PDG Bernie began to quiz us on many, many facts about Rotary International, District 7770, and the significant programs in which District 7770 is involved, including, but not limited to, C.A.R.T; Gift of Life; Dictionary Project; Youth Exchange; and Adopt-a-Club.
Following PDG Bernie’s charismatic educational session, the team received additional insight and guidance from past GSE team leaders Garry Powers (Australia), Bob Montgomery (India), and Rick Melton (Wales). GSE team member to India, Heather Hornsby was also present to offer suggestions and further wisdom about the GSE experience. We all learned a wealth of information from our invited guests and we are so very thankful that they took the time to meet with us! What a pleasure to have met each and every one of them. BIG THANKS TO ALL OF YOU AND GREAT JOB!! was “show time”, so with our audience set, we enlightened our invited guests with our GSE South Africa Team Presentation. Helpful comments and critiques were received about how to make the presentation the absolute best that it can be. As a team, we continued to work diligently through the early afternoon placing the final details on our presentation and practicing; WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!
Prior to concluding our “next to the last” meeting, we reviewed our packing lists, BLOG information, host family gifts, airline itinerary, departure plans, packets of information for our families and final reports. GSE team meeting #5 was busy, but we got it done! Five meetings down and only one to go; watch out South Africa, here we come!
-Annie GeddingsGSE South Africa Team MemberDistrict 7770

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

GSE Team Members

Dr. Raffia Elizabeth Smith - Retired Educator and GSE Team Leader
Conway, South Carolina

Andrea D'Arienzo - Physical Therapist
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Loretta Davis - Lieutenant with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety
Orangeburg, South Carolina

Annie Geddings - Executive Director of Sumter Family Health Center
Sumter, South Carolina

Will Moody - Elementary School Guidance Counselor
Columbia, South Carolina

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dr. Smith and Will enjoy their meal after a long drive up the mountain!
Paula Matthews, team leader for District 7770's GSE to Sweden, and her husband Ronnie joined the group to offer words of wisdom.
Andrea, Loretta, Annie, Will, and Dr. Smith have a moment of fun during the meeting.
The team discusses many important details.
Dr. Smith's husband, Dr. Ellison Smith, tells Loretta and Andrea about the black bear who visits the yard on occasion!

On the evening of Friday, July 13, 2007 the GSE South Africa team gathered at the beautiful mountaintop home of GSE Team Leader Dr. Elizabeth Smith and her husband Dr. Ellison Smith. Located in Bryson City, North Carolina, the Smith’s vacation home provided a restful backdrop for the team as they edited and refined their presentations. Ronnie and Paula Matthews of Columbia, South Carolina also joined the team. Paula Matthews was the team leader for a GSE to Sweden and had many words of wisdom for the South Africa group.

On Friday evening, the lively group enjoyed hotdogs cooked over a bonfire as Dr. Ellison Smith regaled the group with stories of black bears, snakes, and screech owls. The group retired early in order to prepare for a long day of work and play on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, GSE team members practiced their presentations and received constructive feedback from Dr. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Matthews. Before lunch, the group was able to finalize many important details that will ensure a successful and organized GSE to South Africa.

Following a delicious lunch on the screened porch of the Smith’s home, the GSE team (along with Mr. and Mrs. Matthews) ventured down the mountain to go whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River! With the help of a trained guide, Andrea, Annie, Loretta, Will, Dr. Smith, and Mr. and Mrs. Matthews had a wild and wonderful time crashing through the 45 degree waters of the Nantahala! After a 2-hour adventure on the water, the tired GSE team made their way back to the mountain house where they enjoyed three different types of homemade lasagna provided by team member Annie. The evening ended with several fun card games that left team members in stitches!

On Sunday morning, the team enjoyed another delicious, homemade breakfast of fresh fruit and a casserole prepared by Dr. Ellison Smith. Following a brief but meaningful worship service conducted by Dr. Ellison Smith, the team rehearsed their presentations again. After Dr. Smith assigned team members a few items for “homework,” such as finalizing gifts for host families and having luggage tags printed, team members said good-bye.

I am certain that as each team member headed for home, his or her thoughts were on the great significance of the GSE to South Africa and how he or she can best fulfill the Object of Rotary – especially by promoting understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

-Will Moody
GSE South Africa Team Member
District 7770

Three down and three to go!!! The Rotary District 7770 GSE Team has been involved in three training sessions and has three more to go before we board the plane for S. Africa. What can compare to the thrill of being involved in a Group Study Exchange??? “Nothing” will be the response you receive from all past GSE Team Leaders and members. At least that has been my experience. I feel so blessed and honored to have been chosen as Team Leader and am thankful that God has chosen four really super team members.

Let me introduce them to you.

Andrea D’Arienzo is a physical therapist with Conway Medical Center. She is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Carolina Forest Sunrise.

Loretta Davis is a Lieutenant with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety. Loretta is sponsored by the Orangeburg

Annie Geddings is Executive Director of the Sumter Family Health Center. The Palmetto Rotary Club sponsors Annie.

Will Moody, a guidance counselor in Richland Two School District (Round Top Elementary School) is sponsored by the Spring Valley Rotary Club.

Our three previous training sessions have been exciting; we have had several people from S. Africa share about their country. Past GSE Team Leaders and members have given us lots of advice and helpful hints for a successful GSE.
Watch for our next blog and find out how we managed a bonding experience while white water rafting in the mountains of North Carolina

While GSE teams usually have many goals, our vision is to begin a district wide project for aids orphans. There are 2.2 million aids orphans just in S. Africa. 1.1 million of those children are infected. Most of these children are reared by siblings or grandparents. Many of them end up on the street to