September 13, 2010 Rotogram

Dr. Mark Keenum, Mississippi State University’s 19th president addresses the “State of MSU” next week.

Invocation and Pledge: Susan Gamill
Attendance: 56%
Present — 102 (31 exempt, 1 honorary)
Absent — 87 (21 exempt, 11 honorary)
Guests and visitors: Member guests were Buddy Bayliss of Rodney Foil, Don Trotter of Joe Thompson, Ruth Remy of Keith Remy, and Hal Polk of Joe Bumgardner. Guests of the Club were Barbara McKee, Joe Brown, Laura Bridges, and Melissa and Randy Follett.

On Sept. 1, about a dozen Rotarians swept down Main Street and its side streets as part of the annual community clean-up before MSU’s first home football game. You shoulda seen ‘em crawling through the bushes to find beer bottles. John Robert probably hasn’t picked up so many cigarette butts since basic training nearly 70 years ago!

Judge David Houston, U.S. Bankruptcy judge for Mississippi’s Northern District is our guest today.

We welcome 18-year-old Fang-Wei Hsu from Taipei, Taiwan. She arrived in Starkville on September 1. She is settling in with her first host family the Folletts. The committee is seeking two more host families for Jessie’s year with us.

Our 2010-2011 Rotary Youth Exchange student goes by her American first name “Jessie.”

The second annual Rotary Classic Golf Tournament will be Oct. 11. Proceeds go to the East Mississippi Community College tuition guarantee for eligible Oktibbeha County students.

Long-time, and now honorary, Rotarian Chester McKee was back from Colorado with us for a day. The occasion was recognition of his naming his wife Barbara a Paul Harris Fellow.

We welcomed our four newest members, Marc McGee, Stan Miller, Richard Hilton and Patty Faver, to their first official meeting on Aug. 30. They will introduce themselves over the next several weeks.

President Tommy reminded the Club that the board has expanded first year service requirements to help with the golf tournament and rodeo as well as the traditional Christmas parade.

The board of directors has approved a FY 2011 budget that avoids dipping into reserves. Consequently, a number of our community service donations will be cut back, but not cut out.

President Tommy complimented Don Norman and the Starkville Daily News for the special World War II 65th anniversary edition. Scotty Wofford was one of the featured veterans.

He also congratulated Bob Daniels’ on his son Kevin’s wedding.

“Rotary changed my life completely,” said Anna Follett, our Youth Exchange student to Northern Italy last year.

The Starkville High School senior said that it is “beyond significant” that at the age of 17 (18 on Sept. 2) she could become bicultural and bilingual. And, thanks to the school she attended in Milan, she almost became trilingual.

With her class, she got to do an exchange within an exchange to France for a week.

“One of the greatest things about Rotary is the people you meet,” she said.

To illustrate the fact, she showed us a world map with four dots in the U.S. representing places that she knew people before her trip. Her next illustration was a map with 23 dots on all continents except Antartica.

Beginning the survey of her year, she introduced us to her best friend, a first-generation Italian from an Eritrean refugee family.

Anna explained that her friend really taught her Italian by exchanging text messages and correcting her language. And, she introduced her to half of the friends she met.

Besides Italians, she met people from all over the world. Another of her good friends was another exchange student, Lizzie from Perth, Australia. They were two of the 30 RYE students in the Milan district.

One of her reasons for choosing Italy was because of a great interest in the Renaissance.

“About once a month, Rotary took us on a trip to some historic city or site,” said Anna. “We had cathedrals shoved down our throats; we got so sick of ancient art. I guess that’s a good sign since I’ve been exposed to so much.”

“I thought I’d be in awe of Pisa,” she said. “But by the time we got there we were clowning ‘looking like tourists.’”

Her school was a linguistics school where she had to study five languages. The first verb she learned to conjugate was “study,” because “that’s they do all the time.” Her classmates applauded when the principal introduced her as an American.

When asked why her classmates clapped, Anna said, “I have to be honest, part of the reason is Disney Channel. When I got off the plane in Milan, it looked like every billboard had Jonas Brothers on it. They just love American culture.”

“Mr. Keith talks about significant host families are,” she said. “I cannot tell you how much they changed my life.”

Her first family was fluent in English and spoke Greek and Latin. And, since both parents are doctors, they took good care of her through the swine flu.

She learned so much from her second host family just by talking at dinner and visiting extended family. Her host dad even told her things she did not know about Mississippi.

Responding to a question about transportation, she said, “The trains were nasty, but very convenient; a little bit dangerous at night. Host parents and Rotarians were skeptical about letting us take them at night. However, it’s amazing how cheaply you can get around Europe.”

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