Rotary clubs host Argentine visitors

By April Avison

Guests to Monday's meeting of the Rotary Club of Henry County may have been confused by the young woman in traditional Argentine dress, playing guitar and singing for the club members.

It was not an ordinary Rotary meeting, as the club hosted a Group Study Exchange team from Buenos Aires.

"Twice a year our club agrees to host a GSE team, which is made up of one Rotarian and three or four business professionals," said Henry County Rotary president Brad Crawford. "Our own district sent a team to Argentina to participate in the program."

Irene Wais de Badgen, president of the Buenos Aires Rotary Club and the GSE team leader, said she was pleased be part of the program. During the team's one-month stay in Georgia, they will visit several area Rotary clubs. On Monday they toured Atlanta Motor Speedway and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The team will visit the Clayton County Rotary Club on Tuesday and take trips to Spivey Hall, the Georgia Archives and Clayton County Water Authority.

"I really appreciate – this opportunity, since this trip would allow me not only to grow as a professional but also as a person, making my heart bigger in sharing some of the works that Rotary clubs promote," said GSE team member Mechi Moreno, 28.

Those who participate in the GSE program say it is a life-changing experience.

"I've applied because I believe it might be the chance of a lifetime experience," said team member Caro Grois, 27. "Not only would it mean the opportunity to share both countries' cultures but also to develop lasting relationships."

Among those who have hosted the GSE team members are Henry County Rotarians Joel and Laura Maddox, Si and Kim Elliott, and Clayton County Rotary members Phil and Janet McMullin. Henry County Rotarian Emanuel Jones and wife Gloria hosted a reception for the Argentine visitors on Sunday evening at their home in Ellenwood.

"I want to thank Rotary for giving us this opportunity to meet such nice people," said team member Marisa Guetzelevich.

Each of the five members of the GSE team briefly addressed the Henry County club on Monday afternoon.

"I love soccer," said team member Pablo Yornet, 27. "I love barbecue, too."

Team member Moreno played guitar and sang two songs, while Rotarians clapped their hands to the music.

"Get to know these people and their culture," Crawford encouraged Rotary members. "That's what this program is all about."