Posted on Oct 06, 2019
Helen Baldwin‘s interest in Rotary travel began when she and husband Gordon arrived in Sri Lanka where Gordon visited a club in Colombo at the time of the Tieneman Square incident. Gordon came back with much international information. It was a great stimulus to say yes when Helen was asked to join Madison Breakfast Rotary.
In Bergen, Norway, the Baldwins visited two clubs, one entirely women and deliberately so, a big contrast to the still-common all male clubs. Another club held a special meeting in English to benefit them. In Chang Rai, Thailand, a small city at the north of the country, they truly experienced fellowship. A member who spoke English was seated between them as interpreter. He invited them to his home for tea and gave suggestions of where and where not to eat. The host picked them up the next day to go to the market with lessons on picking the best fruit, eating a mango and bargaining.
At the Carpentras club in Southern France, the members were outspoken about political issues. The Baldwins learned a little about local economy when the club like many in Europe, gave up meals as too expensive and only served drinks.
The Baldwins chanced into two memorable Rotary galas. In Highgate, England, arriving the night of a formal holiday party, with wives in long gowns, men in formal evening attire, even one in kilts, the Baldwins were in typical U.S. informal traveling attire. Everyone was gracious and they went home with the phone number of a member’s sister living in Monroe. The Carpentras club was meeting at a pizzeria way out of town to celebrate the truffle harvest. The
meal included truffle canapés with aperitif wines, fish with Truffles, the Grand Plat with Truffles and wine and dessert with sweet wine. In Johannasburg in 2011, with they son Schuyler, they visited a venerable small all white, all make club. Schuyler, a military history and aircraft buff, spent the meeting with an older member learning about the adventures of a very young flyer in WWII and the planes he knew and loved.
Helen urges us to visit other towns in the U.S. and abroad and find out when and where the local Rotary clubs meet. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie and enlightenment. Just go to center.