05/24/05 — Rotary-sponsored group from India tours Wayne County

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Rotary-sponsored group from India tours Wayne County

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 24, 2005 1:48 PM

Even something as simple as picking strawberries is one thing members of a Rotary-sponsored team from India will never forget about their trip here.

The team consisted of young professionals from India who toured eastern North Carolina for a month with a four-day stop in Goldsboro.

Bryson Bateman, one of the local host families, said they were given tours of Wayne Memorial Hospital, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Wayne Community College, Cherry Hospital, the city of Goldsboro and the Water Reclamation Facility. Those were for vocational purposes.

"We chose these areas for them to tour because they are interesting," said Bateman, who himself toured India for a month recently as part of a Rotary team. "We have an excellent hospital and a great military facility. The waste treatment here is different. We thought the community college was a the place to show them a different form of education."

While in eastern North Carolina, the team visited Cherry Point Naval Air Station and Pitt County Hospital.

"We tried to tailor their tour here to the interests they might have and also show them things about our community that are unique," said Bateman. "We wanted to give them as broad a picture of eastern North Carolina as we could."

To give them a taste of local culture, the Indians were treated to a night at the American Music Jubilee in Selma. Several barbecues and dinners were also held for them.

The purpose of the team's visit was both vocational and educational. It builds good will and understanding and is a way of people getting to know people, discovering that we are all really one big family, according to Bateman. "It's Rotary's way of promoting world peace," he said.

Nearly 40,000 GSE team members have been exchanged around the world since the program began in 1965.

"It gives them an opportunity as young professionals to see another culture, be immersed in it and learn from it," said Bateman.

Host families in Goldsboro included Bateman, Tom Bradshaw and Keith Baronsky.

The team's leader was Rotarian Luv Kumar Kamra. He said the trip is an effort to let young professionals who are leaders in their professions go to another country, get exposure and understand the practices, then take them back home and share them in their own communities.

"We've been seeing a lot of countryside," said Kamra. "We've seen how in eastern North Carolina there are a lot of retired people. We've found a different outlook to retirement along with a different outlook to health care.

"We've been politically impressed with the quality of acute health care here, how the system mobilizes for an emergency. It's most outstanding, probably the best in the world."

He said he was very impressed with the infrastructure here. "When you do something, you plan it well and it's monitored well and that's nice."

He also said he was touched by the quality and safety consciousness here, especially when he toured the turkey and pickle plants. "It comes across that life is very precious." he said. "The entire system has to take care of people.

"What we have found is that people are people and the political boundaries don't really make a difference. The human race is very nice and very accommodating. We have found more similarities than differences between the two countries."

He said this experience has made him look at life very differently forever.

One team member was Dr. Baxi Neeraj Prasad Sinha. "There is so much similarity in the way Indians and the people here think and behave," he said. "It was a great experience. For us young professionals, this was an opportunity of a lifetime. It has been a great learning experience for me."

Dr. Alokananda Roy was also a team member. She saw some of the latest technology such as robotic surgery in Greenville. "We did such beautiful things as going to a strawberry farm and actually picking strawberries, which I have always only imagined," she said. "That was something like a dream come true."

Team member Vinita Singh really enjoyed cheering for the East Carolina University Pirates at a game and also picking strawberries and going sailing.

"I've been writing it all down and once I go back to India, I'll definitely share it with as many people as possible and tell them how wonderful this trip has been and how wonderful each and every individual we have met has been to us," she said.

Observing that people here are very family oriented was team member Asha Nair. "I especially treasure the moments I spent with the host families, getting to know the culture," she said. "There's a lot of commonality with both cultures.

"Something I really admire is the concept of the Committee of 100 where you promote industrial development. That was very unique."

Kamra summed up the experience by saying that "each civilization that has survived has had something good; that's why they have survived. This kind of thing should be shared more. Government should get more involved in suppressing the border issue and increasing the human issue."