Manchester Rotarian leading exchange trip to Istanbul

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Jan. 24, 2013
(L-r) Alma Kruh, District 7890 GSE coordinator, Marty Fins, team leader, and team members Danny Lee, Sally Umlauf, Lauren Alex and Elizabeth McCoskrie. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Rotary International has 1.2 million members throughout the world, and this May, one Rotarian from Manchester will be giving a team of four the chance to meet his counterparts in Istanbul, Turkey, for a month-long trip. Marty Fins of the Manchester Rotary Club was selected to lead the trip by the club's district at large, District 7890, which covers northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

Fins was the owner of Silk City Print Shoppe on Main Street until he sold it a year and a half ago, and has been part of the Rotary Club for 25 years.

“The beautiful part about the Rotary is I can go anywhere in the world and go to a meeting and be welcomed with open arms,” said Fins. “It's a real fellowship of people who are like-minded.” That common trait is a drive to give back to the community, both locally or internationally.

The trip to Turkey will be through the Rotary's Group Study Exchange, a cultural and vocational program that gives young professionals a chance to travel and meet their counterparts in foreign countries. These young professionals can be anyone who is employed locally and is between the ages of 24 and 40. Those who go are not affiliated with the Rotary, but have the opportunity to see what the Rotary does for the local and international community through their trip. Any young professional can apply for the GSE, though this is the last year that candidate selection is arbitrary, as going forward, GSEs will be vocation-oriented.

The trip will be an enriching experience for the team members, and an excellent opportunity to develop in their respective careers. “When we get to Turkey, we'll be meeting with companies and people who do the same work that my team does,” said Fins. This year, his team includes Liz McCoskrie, Danny Lee and Lauren Alex, engineers at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, and Sally Umlauf, a veterinarian from Pittsfield, Mass. “They'll be able to exchange ideas with people who do the same thing over there that they do here,” he said.

The exchange also advances a mission dear to the hearts of all Rotarians: fostering goodwill and peace. “When you sit down with someone in a foreign country and break bread with them, and share ideas and make friends, you're a lot less likely to go to war with them,” said Fins.

The Rotary's District 7890 organizes a GSE at a different country every year. Most recently, the district has arranged GSEs in Nepal, Japan, India and Sweden.

The team will leave in early May and return in early June. There, they will attend meetings at Istanbul's many Rotary Clubs (according to Fins, the city alone has 83 clubs), visit cites pertaining to the vocations of team members, and visit places of cultural significance.

The group will be staying in the homes of Rotarians, just as visiting teams stay in the homes of local Rotarians. But while visitors to District 7890 will stay at Rotarians' homes for a week at a time, Fins and his team will be hosted by a different family every two days.

“That will be interesting living out of a suitcase and meeting with many different families while we're there,” he said.

Upon their return, they will give presentations to local clubs on their experiences in Turkey.

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