Exchange program brings Germans to JasperApril 26, 2013
By ALEXANDRA SONDEEN
Herald Staff Writer
JASPER — The Jasper Rotary Club hosted five German visitors this week.
The group is part of the Rotary International Group Study Exchange program that provides a cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for professionals ages 25 to 40. Each year, Rotary districts worldwide partner to host exchange groups, allowing team members the opportunity to see how their fields of work are handled in other countries. The participants are housed with Rotary host families during their stays.
A team of four German non-Rotarians came with a Rotarian team leader from the FrÃ¤nkische Schweiz-Wiesenttal club in Rotary District 1950, which covers the German states of Bavaria and Thuringia. They arrived in the United States on April 16 for a five-week visit and spent time in Evansville before coming to Jasper on Wednesday.
“It’s very nice here,” team member Bastian Kettler of Erlangen said. “It’s very German.”
Tonya Heim, president of the Jasper club, said the Rotary International president’s theme for the year is “Peace Through Service.”
“The more we get to know each other, the more we understand that we’re all alike,” she said.
“We’re all people, no matter where we’re from or what we do. This is a great program.”
On Thursday, the exchange group made a presentation to the Jasper club at a lunch meeting at the Schnitzelbank Restaurant. They also met Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, visited Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper, talked with local businessman Dave Buehler and toured Jasper Engines & Transmissions. They had visited the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City and the Francis Lindauer dairy farm in Ferdinand on Wednesday.
“The people are so kind, totally friendly everywhere,” Daniela Singer of Obertrubach, the Rotarian team leader, said. “The landscape is also beautiful.”
Kettler, who is a mechanical engineer working in forging technology, was impressed by Jasper Engines, which specializes in remanufacturing.
“It was quite interesting,” he said. “In Germany, we mostly don’t rework engines. We buy new.”
Singer was pleased to see the number of people working in the facility.
“It’s a good thing because they have work,” she said. “In Germany, most of these jobs get lost. They’re done by robots.”
The group also commented on the large number of women that work for the company, noting programs exist in Germany to try to encourage women to join mechanical and engineering fields.
“It’s surprising to see so much women,” Kettler said. “It isn’t so in Germany. This kind of work is mostly man-dominated.”
Singer, who lives in a very small village, noted she can walk from village to village in Germany. Here, the communities are more spread out.
“It’s really in the middle of nowhere here, but here is a world company,” she said of Jasper Engines. “It’s very interesting.”
Singer said the group was surprised that some American restaurants serve beverages in plastic cups. Germany is a leader among European countries for recycling.
“We only use glass in Germany,” she said. “It is the same everywhere.”
The group planned to head to Columbus today to make a presentation at the district conference there. Jasper Rotary member Darren Patterson will lead a southern Indiana group of four non-Rotarians to Germany next month.
“It’s a great program and we’ll participate in it every year,” Heim said.
Contact Alexandra Sondeen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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