Tuesday, 17 April 2012
ROTA 1960 celebrates the early days of GSE
With several districts currently hosting Group Study Exchange teams this story is very timely in looking at some of the history of the programme from which GSE sprang.
ROTA 1960 NEW ZEALAND TEAM TO INDIA AND CEYLON - CELEBRATED 50th ANNIVERSARY
The Rotary Overseas Travel Award (ROTA) 1960 New Zealand Team’s five surviving members gathered in Auckland, New Zealand on 19-21 November 2010 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their group study tour to India and Ceylon by seven young New Zealanders and their Rotarian leader. ROTA was the forerunner to Group Study Exchange (GSE).
Then Past President (who subsequently became District Governor) Les Colgan of the Rotary Club of New Lynn, Auckland, led a ground breaking study tour of India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for almost five months from 22 November 1960 to 1 April 1961, which included three weeks each way by ship.
Their 50th anniversary weekend began on Friday night with an authentic Indian meal for team members and partners. On Saturday there was a full day of activities including a New Zealand lunch with a 50th anniversary cake for a wider group of 18 people, including family of deceased team members.
Sadly, Team Leader Les Colgan was called to higher service (on 2 July 1987), as were Rod Littlejohn (1 September 1981), Joe Runga (9 February 2005), and just two weeks after these celebrations, Wiremu (Bill) Tawhai passed away (2 December 2010) having courageously attended from his treatment at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton.
Two ROTA 1960 Team Members are Rotarians: Pat Baker, of the Rotary Club of Drury, was formerly on the District 9920 World Community Service and New Generations Committees; and Douglas Day, of the Rotary Club of Pencarrow, is District 9940 Rotary Foundation Alumni Sub-Committee Convenor. Both Pat and Douglas have received Paul Harris recognition.
The concept of ROTA began in New Zealand as a District project to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Rotary, through the vision of Dr Ralph Vernon, President of the Rotary Club of Auckland 1953-1954. Five New Zealand ROTA groups travelled across the world: the first in 1955 to the UK; the second in 1958-1959 to Rotary districts in the Pacific states of the USA and Canada; the third in 1960-1961 to India and Ceylon ; the fourth in 1962 to Japan; and the fifth in 1963-1964 to Malaysia. Return visits from counterpart districts followed in each case.
In 1963, details and guidelines on the ROTA exchange programme were formally presented to The Rotary Foundation for consideration as a world-wide programme, and Ralph Vernon was invited to Chicago, USA to help shape up how it might be applied internationally. Plans for Group Study Exchange were approved in January 1964. The programme has been subjected to some policy and procedural modifications throughout the years, but the primary aim of ROTA which became GSE, of helping to improve international understanding and peace through the exchange of promising young professional and business people, has not changed.
For further information on ROTA 1960, contact Douglas Day on +64 4 568 8088, or email email@example.com.