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Meeting Highlights
The Weekly Westerner Edition 55.35
Box 4572, Station C, Calgary, Alberta T2T 5N3
Grey Eagle Hotel, 3777 Grey Eagle Drive (Corner of 37 St SW and Glenmore Drive)
Mondays 12.00 pm - 1.00 pm
 
President: Marlene Doherty President-Elect: Linda Anderson 
President Elect Nominee: Rob Rakochey Past President: Bill Fitzsimmons
Secretary: Gail Williams Treasurer: Don Edie
Directors: Judy Cochran, Gord Cox, Terry Felton, Barb Hames,
Les Morgan, Drew Turnbull
 
Together We Are People of Action - Building Community
May 2, 2022  Edition: 55.35 Reporter: Judy Cochran Editor: Marlene Doherty
 
RCCW Hybrid Meeting
 
That sweet spot on the bell was rung at exactly 12 noon by Madame President Marlene. (Speaking of sweet spots is it golf season yet?) The meeting began with the Treaty 7 Land Acknowledgement and the singing of our National Anthem. Natalija Reljic was the Zoom greeter and introduced our three guests from the Rotary Club in Le Locle, Switzerland. First our guest speaker, Yvan Botteron, and incoming president, de Pierre Gygarx, past president and David Lienhard, current club president. Gord Copithorne was welcomed and acknowledged as a guest in the chat. Les Morgan introduced our in person guests including District Governor Elect from Egypt, Emad Abdel Wahab, and his wife, Riham, Linda Strang, and Don Campbell, a past member of Calgary West and Bontu Galataa. Welcome everyone.
 
 

Guest Speaker: Yvan Botteron

Youth Exchange Program,  Ambassadorial Experience
The meeting was truly International and looked at various viewpoints on cultures – the similarities and the differences. Sa’adat Keshavjee introduced our guest speaker, Yvan Botteron. The Rotary theme for May is Youth. Yvan came to our District from western Switzerland in 1995 and stayed for three years. His scholarship was granted to study electrical engineering. Yvan is now a pilot with Swiss International flying a Canadian built Airbus 220 C Series.
 
Yvan began his talk with how it all started. In July 1990 he was a young engineering student and was sent to New Jersey to learn German which he uses in his job today. He was exposed to travel, language, and culture. In July 1995 he applied for the Rotary ambassadorial scholarship to carry on his studies in engineering. He arrived in Calgary and was met by Sa’adat, Stan Cichon, Don Campbell, and Jo Johannson who has since passed. Sa’adat and Don will be guests at Yvan’s wedding in May. Congrats to Yvan and Ann! The Rotary International Convention was held in Calgary in 1996. In 1997 he joined Rotaract – age restrictions for Rotaractors and Rotarians were different back then.
 
His achievements include his graduation in 1997 with his proud mom by his side. His mom was instrumental in facilitating his many opportunities. He vividly recalls his first solo flight from the Springbank airport and being grateful he brought the airplane back without a scratch. He went home with his pilot’s license. Since Canada, he currently is a captain with Swiss International. He has been a Rotarian for 18 years and is currently President Elect Nominee.  
 
Reflecting on his stay in Canada, Yvan tells us his biggest experience was the culture. He thought he was going from one Western culture to another. Yes, there are similarities but there are also differences. The biggest learning is to accept those differences. We must be the sum of our differences not a product of our divisions. Keep trying, “fold and rise” over and over. It will not be perfect - the focus is to communicate to allow you to listen and learn.
 
There were many opportunities to serve in Canada with Rotaract and now back home with Rotary. We live in a safe environment. He is still trying to give back what he received in Canada. Ukraine is only a 2 hour plane ride away for him and he had been there prior to the Russian attack. He warns we must keep our eyes open to excessive behaviours.
 
In conclusion, Rotary has changed the way scholarships are now awarded and his type of scholarship no longer exists which he laments. It is still possible to host an exchange student and make a critical difference is someone’s life allowing them to travel, discover and change lives. It changed Yvan’s.
 
Don Campbell asked Yvan to reflect on his training in Florida. He was close to Cape Canaveral to allow him to watch the space shuttles launch. He says flying in the US or Canada offers so much freedom – here you can hop in your plane and go for a quick coffee or lunch in another location. That isn’t possible in Switzerland where there are many more restrictions in the aviation world.
 
Malcolm Harrison thanked Yvan for sharing his experiences from an early Rotary beginning as an ambassadorial scholar to what he is doing today. A donation will be made to Shelter box as a thank you.
 
Steve Kuiack shared  his story and what a story it is! Steve was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario. He has lived in various locations in Canada and internationally including Melbourne, Australia, Seoul, South Korea, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, Georgetown, Grand Cayman and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
 
He has enjoyed various sports over the years including hockey, skiing, golf, tennis, baseball, squash, snorkelling, boxing, cross fit, and yoga. He jokes his physic may not reflect this level of activity but since his return to Canada he is fulfilling his cravings for Dr. Pepper, salt and vinegar chips, and Reece’s peanut butter cups.
 
Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from McGill University, MBA and MIB both from Royal Melbourne, Australia, a graduate certificate in renewable energy from Stanford plus designations such as LEED and PMP.
 
He has travel to all the Canadian provinces except Newfoundland, NWT, and Nunavut. Loves the friendliness of the Maritimers. Internationally he has travelled to 55 different countries on every continent except Antarctica! His favorite destinations include Vietnam, Bolivia, and Nepal.
 
His career path has taken him across the globe. He has worked for private and public businesses and even started some of his own. He is currently employed by Shaw. At an early age, his parents taught him to give back. His dad played a Johnny Cash tune with the line “The road to happiness is through love and charity” So he started young planting flowers, cutting the grass, and raking leaves for the elderly. At university, helping in the hospital and soup kitchen. In his travels he established libraries in prisons in Nepal and South Korea. That line from the song always stuck with him and helped give perspective to what is important - while some are struggling for their lives in this world is it important to be struggling for marks.
 
He offered a summary of his life with the highs and lows. First the highs, including the birth of their son, Gabriel, and marriage to my wife, Phoenix. White water rafting down 5.5 grade rapids of the Zambezi River, going on a safari at Kruger Park in South Africa, flying near Mt Everest, snorkeling in world class spots, bushwhacking trekking in the Amazon. Being recognized for his efforts with Canada’s Korean War veterans as well as for my work with lepers and “comfort women.” Meeting and saying the rosary with Mother Teresa, meeting Pope John Paul II on the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Bill Clinton. Wow!
 
Now for the lows: Having his passport confiscated by Israeli soldiers while others pointed machine guns at my waist and feet on the suspicion that I was a foreign spy in Palestine. In Nicaragua, being held with a gun to my forehead while my laptop was stolen. Being deported from Myanmar and placed on the foreigner blacklist because he took photos of sensitive areas on Myanmar and was being followed by the secret police. He has recently received amnesty. Resorting to drinking his contact solution to quench his thirst on a deserted road that eventually forced him to become a stowaway and illegal migrant from Paraguay into Bolivia. Having his business taken away in Nicaragua due to corruption in the government who wanted an exorbitant slice of the pie. His friend had to spend a half a million dollars to pay off his so called debt to the government. Being left stranded at sea on a snorkeling expedition which is still causing Steve profound trauma but he is working his way through with the help of others. These are adventures you don’t want to have.
 
Steve admits there is nothing in particular for his Rotary Moment, but in so many places he visited in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America he came across signs of various Rotary projects…so much so that it left a lasting impression. He has never forgotten his dad’s lesson.
 
Les Morgan commented, “I wonder who is going to play Steve in the movie!”
 
As our Club’s Chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Steve announces the Club will be starting a series called My Culture beginning today with our first speaker Mona Wasfy. (a.k.a. Smashing Mashing Mona)
 
Mona acknowledged that she thought she had travelled a lot but nothing compared to Steve! Mona was born in Egypt and went to school in England. She did the runway twirl of a Bedouin dress she was wearing - an expensive imitation. The girls start at an early age to embroider their Bedouin dress to wear at their wedding. To purchase an original would be extremely expensive.
Mona tried to join Rotary there but it was for men only. In her words, this did not sit well.
 
Mona talks about two dishes native to Egypt that she makes. One is called molokhia, a green soup made from minced Jews/Jute mallow leaves which is like spinach and cooked in chicken broth served over rice and chicken and topped with onions soaked in vinegar. The second one is kishk, a savoury pudding made from chicken broth, yogurt, flour, and fried onions. She remarks the Egyptians know how to cook fish! Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon influence the Egyptian cuisine which is not as fine as Lebanon’s but still great!
 
Egypt has a population of 1.7 million people. Tourism is huge part of the economy. When her son went to Egypt, he remarked he knew he was home as he could feel the love there as they landed. The Nile River supports the agriculture industry as the land is very arable around the river. Egypt does have vast desert areas. Other industries include natural gas and manufacturing.
 
The social and political uncertainties that plague Egypt have adversely affected Egypt’s economy, slowing foreign investment and industries, especially tourism. Emad was invited to comment on the work the new president is doing. He spoke favorably of various initiatives including new roads, irrigation canals, upgrades of museums, funding for education and health care.
 
Emad, Egypt’s District 2164 Governor Elect, was invited to the podium. He had small gifts as a thank you to President Marlene and the Strang’s. At the church Linda Strang attends Emad’s mother is taking an ELL course. She told Linda her son, Emad, was visiting from Egypt and would like to attend a Rotary meeting. Linda asked Steve to phone him and make contact which led to the invite to our Monday meeting. Martin Parnell has invited them both to the District Conference on May 14th.
 
Emad has been in Rotary for 35 years now. He has done lots of travelling – there is something you can only get in Rotary. Egypt has 125 clubs with 3,000 members. The Rotary Club in Cairo where Emad is a member is 50/50 male female and across Egypt 51 % of the members are females. There is no shortage of projects in Egypt falling into the seven areas of focus. He too supports youth exchange giving students an opportunity to share cultures and language. Marlene presented a club pin to Emad and Riham.
 
 
 
 
 
Barbie, Director of Fun and Fellowship, is getting us pumped up for a sock hop on June 10 at the Calgary Golf and Country Club. You need to find your poodle skirts, frat shirts and oxfords – don’t forget the socks! There will be a band so practice your best jive moves. We will be celebrating 55 years of RCCW and President Marlene’s year.
 
Bill Quinney gave us the stats on our participation in National Volunteer Week. There were 7 events, 55 shifts and 155 volunteer hours logged. Congrats to all those who served at Immigrant Services Calgary, the Alex, BB4K, Calgary Reads Book Sale, Meals on Wheels, the Interfaith Food Bank, and the Grace Satellite Food Bank.
 
 
 
 
From the All-Presidents’ meeting, President Marlene informs us the District Conference now has a live stream option and Friday, May 6 is the deadline for registration. After the RI conference in Houston in June of 2022, a Calgary team will be formed, and work will begin on the RI Convention in Calgary in 2025. Shout out to Gord Cox and his team for keeping our hybrid meetings running smoothly. Many clubs have abandoned hybrid due to lack of technological expertise. A shout out to all our Bulletin editors for the work they do in communicating what goes on in our weekly meetings. Again, many clubs are struggling finding reporters for this task.
 
Thanks to Team 3 today for fulfilling the meeting duties. Judy Cochran was awarded the Building Community pin for “juggling “last week: commitment & passion for RYLA- ensuring everything is in place for the students, completing & submitting our grant for the Children’s Cottage, volunteering at the Grace Satellite Food bank, baking for BB4CK, assisting the Treasurer and Incoming Board with Budget preparation and baking pies for our members.  Gail Williams has tested positive for Covid and Nketti Johnston-Taylor is in England with her terminally ill father, our thoughts and prayers are with them.  
Following the 4-way test, the meeting was adjourned.
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The nonprofit Music Mends Minds, launched by Rotary member Carol Rosenstein, provides people with memory loss an opportunity to reconnect through song.

 

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