Paul Reinert of Integrity Home Care has been always interested in Rotary’s international engagement since joining Downtown Rotary in 2002. In April of 2013, Paul led a Group Study Exchange to Central America. Other members of the group were Kim Green from Ozarks Technical Community College, Christi Sudbrock from Missouri State University, Charles Parker, Jr from University of Missouri and Jimmy Stilley from Oakstar Bank.
The group spent the whole month of April touring the four countries of the District (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) – by spending one week in each country. The purpose of Group Study Exchanges is to facilitate networking among Rotarians around the world, increase global understanding and awareness of local cultures, open opportunities for partnerships, and potentially foster co-operation on Rotary driven projects.
Paul and his team members were individually hosted in the homes of local Rotarians, who made them feel as if they were members of their families. In every country they had cultural and touristic experiences and had the opportunity to visit and connect with colleagues in similar businesses and industries.
They visited banks, universities, hospitals, farms, nonprofits, etc. However, local hospitality was truly the most remarkable experience. As Paul remembered, “The main emotion and memory of the actual experience for me is that we were truly welcomed from the heart by many wonderful people, and that we were going nonstop morning to night for 28 consecutive days.”
In Panama, they had the opportunity to board a charter ship through the locks of the Panama Canal and a partial transit of the isthmus – a great conclusion to a great experience! Paul noted, “Somehow we all held up well and find ourselves forever changed by this incredible experience. Rotary truly does offer us opportunities for global fellowship and learning.” A great opportunity to think about in the future.