Cole Nychka wrote an article for APEGGA about his GSE trip. Our Club sponsored his GSE application. Read his article...
Rotary Trip Boosts Knowledge and Builds Memories
by Cole Nychka, E.I.T.

In the Land of the Fjords

Cole Nychka, E.I.T., of Edmonton encourages other APEGGA members to apply for the Rotary Group Study Exchange. The ATCO employee's visit to Norway was chock-full of fun and learning, he says.

This past May, I was able to travel to Norway as a member of a five-person group on an expenses-paid trip of a lifetime all because of my engineering profession. I spent four weeks visiting leading Norwegian engineering firms, going on personal guided tours, and staying in my Norwegian tour guides' homes.

This vocational and cultural experience is proving to be simply unforgettable. Although the Group Study Exchange Program is sponsored by Rotary, I did not have to be a Rotarian to qualify. The annual vocational and cultural exchange is for professionals aged 25-40 who have been in their vocation for at least two years.

Annually, a Rotarian team leader and four to six non-Rotarian team members from each of the two Alberta Rotary districts go on a trip to experience how their occupational counterparts work overseas. In 2008, the north Rotary district visits Pakistan in January and the south district visits Sao Paulo, Brazil, in May.

The exchange to Brazil will focus on forestry and agriculture. Participants are billeted with families and are only responsible for personal spending money. Travel, lodging and meals are all provided through Rotary. The goal of the exchange is to give business people and professionals in the early stages of their careers a unique growth opportunity, while fostering goodwill between nations and encouraging economic opportunities through the sharing of ideas.

I was a part of a team made up of a bakery manager, a community development facilitator and two other engineers--a structural engineer from Grande Prairie and a water treatment engineer from Edmonton.

The vocational experiences were targeted for each individual. I'm an E.I.T. with a mechanical engineering background and I work for ATCO Gas, so I spent most of my time getting an overview of the energy sector in Norway.

Places I visited included a wood-waste-burning, a district heating plant; the Slagen Refinery--a facility where the boilers burn propane to meet Norway's strict environmental regulations; and Dr. Techn. Olav Olsen, the consulting firm that designed the first concrete offshore drilling platforms for the North Sea.

The technical highlight of the trip was a presentation by the vice-president of marketing at Norway's second largest oil company, Norsk Hydro. The presentation focused on the Ormen Lange natural gas field and the associated 1,200-kilometre undersea Langeled pipeline. The world's largest, this pipeline goes from Norway to the U.K.

The two megaprojects required a combined investment of seven billion euros. I started to understand why it cost so much, after seeing how the sea floor was prepared for the concrete-encased pipeline. Crews selectively added fill from ships and used underwater robots to remove fill.

These trip aren't all business. The Group Study Exchange offers ample time to experience the host culture and country. My team was hosted by six Rotary Clubs and I was billeted with a different family at each club. Through this broad experience I made many friends, had many home-cooked meals, and developed a good impression of what it means to be Norwegian.

Our hosts were extremely proud of their country and we, their visitors, felt we had much in common with them. They also expressed their love of the outdoors on several occasions when the team was taken on hiking and boat excursions including a trip through the breathtaking Norwegian fjords.

Application forms and further information on the Rotary Group Study Exchange program can be found at GSE info or from your local club.

Rotary Group Study Exchange - Northern Alberta:

Rotary Group Study Exchange - Southern Alberta (including Red Deer):

Applications for the north are no longer being accepted for 2008, but applications for the south are due September 29.

Send them to:
Neil Swensrude
36 Rowell Close
Red Deer, AB T4P 3P4