Exchange program brings Germans to Jasper

Photos by Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Roman Klipp of Zella-Mehlis, Germany, took in the sights of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper during a tour Thursday morning. Klipp is one of five German visitors traveling in Indiana for a month with the Rotary International Group Study Exchange program. Klipp said that architecturally the church is the first German-looking church he had seen since arriving in Indiana on April 16.

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 Fränkische 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.”

Darren Patterson of Jasper shared historic information about the stone cross outside of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper with the five German visitors of the Rotary International Group Study Exchange program on Thursday morning.

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.

Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, left, greeted the five German visitors, including Doreen Ullmann, second from left, Roman Klipp and Bastian Kettler, at Jasper City Hall on Thursday morning. Ullmann is from the German city of Erfurt, Klipp is from Zella-Mehlis and Kettler is from Erlangen.

“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.

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