Rotary group study exchange to Pennsylvania leaves Caitlin Reid exhausted but elated

LIFE-CHANGING: Rotary group study exchange participants Josephine Bell (a registered nurse from Stanthorpe) and Tenterfield tourism officer Caitlin Reid greatly enjoyed their study tour.
LIFE-CHANGING: Rotary group study exchange participants Josephine Bell (a registered nurse from Stanthorpe) and Tenterfield tourism officer Caitlin Reid greatly enjoyed their study tour.

Visitors Information Centre volunteers and Tenterfield Rotary members alike turned out to a slideshow with a difference last week as tourism officer (and Rotarian) Caitlin Reid delivered an entertaining report of her Rotary group study exchange to Pennsylvania earlier this year.

“By far this was one of the most incredible things I have done,” Caitlin said.

She said one of the best things to come from her exchange is the bond she now shares with her travel partners, including Stanthorpe registered nurse Josephine Bell who was at the presentation.

Food figured prominently in the presentation, to the extent that the group is working on a fundraising recipe book detailing the gastronomical delights they enjoyed in the US including waffles with peanut butter, bacon and maple syrup (with ice-cream), soft crab pretzels, cheese steak sandwiches and maple bacon donuts.

Shoes also featured, with recommendations to hit the sales at one location where Caitlin nabbed five pairs, to add to five more she managed to bring back along with other shopping (and the help of two additional suitcases.)

The 15 Rotary clubs the group presented to were much larger than she was used to, including York Club with 320 members. Each of the clubs received a two-up kit from the group as a memento of their visit, and they also auctioned off Australiana raising more than $1400.

Race against Racism will receive $1000 of this, with the remainder split between Polio Plus (a Rotary charity) and Leg-up Farm, an inspirational facility that provides a one-stop shop for a range of specialist services for special-needs children and their families.

Caitlin stayed with a range of host families which each provided insights into Pennsylvanian way of life. She got to run up the “Rocky” steps in Philadelphia, eat cheese steak sandwiches at a baseball game and visit an Amish school that was well off the tourist track.

“Pennsylvania was not high on my bucket list, but now I can’t imagine going anywhere else,” Caitlin said.

She said the trip was the furtherest thing from a holiday but she had so much fun, coming back with ideas to promote tourism in her day job, and impressed with the philanthropic efforts embodied in several of the locations visited. These included a live-in school for under privileged children and now a medical centre funded by the late chocolatier Milton Hershey, and the aforementioned Leg Up Farm.

Caitlin said the experience was life-changing, she’s just not sure how yet.

“It’s given me more confidence and I’ve learned to say ‘no’, but it has compounded the shoe issue.”

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