Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And we're off!

IIT, where it all began. Our opening social event and interviews were held  here on August 12 and 13.
After more than 4 months of planning and preparation, the District 6450 GSE team is departing to Gujarat tonight. We look forward to our arrival and hope you all will continue to follow our blog over the next 4 weeks in India. See you on the other side of the world!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Team Update

We spent last weekend practicing our presentations and doing dry runs for our GSE Coordinator, David Baker. We got a lot of great feedback from David and Prakash. Here are some snapshots from the session:
The group, listening as Jessica gives her presentation.

Prakash and Jessica

Elliot, Dana, David, and Prakash listen as Jessica (off screen) describes potential tweaks to her presentation.

District Governor, David Templin, stopped by to wish us well on our trip. He also came bearing gifts! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Team Update

In late November and early December, the team got together at Prakash's place to take photos in traditional Indian dress. Some of our print materials will include these photos in addition to photos in American attire. Check out the photos of Dana, Jessica, and Ayo below!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Guru, Anupam Mehta

In our meetings leading up to Group Study Exchange, we've had the pleasure of being joined by Mr. Aupam Mehta. Mr. Mehta has been our guru, or teacher, as we've prepared to immerse ourselves in Indian and Gujarati culture. He has taught us traditional greetings and customs, Gujarati salutations and phrases, and led us when singing the National Anthem of India, Jana Gana Mana. He has taught us everything from the phrases we will be including in our print materials to various phrases that will help us communicate with folks throughout the trip. I specifically wanted to know how to say "this food was delicious!", which is "bahu maza aavi". While most , if not all of the people we encounter, will speak English, we hope our use of their language will show our dedication toward making this trip as fruitful as possible.

Mr. Metha, Aabhar!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Team Update

The team's print materials will include a set of interesting facts about Rotary District 6450. Some of the facts we'll include are:
  • Paul Harris, from Chicago, Illinois, started Rotary International in 1905. 
  • Rotary membership has now grown to over 1.2 million members worldwide.
  • There are sixty-three Rotary Clubs in District 6450
  • Rotarians have preserved the original meeting place, room 711 in Chicago’s Unity building, by recreating the office as it existed in 1905.
  • Next Rotary year, District 6450 is planning to send a GSE Team to Nigeria

We'd also like to give a shout out to Erica Egger, who has been invaluable in her help with our pins, business cards, brochures, and thank you cards!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Team Photo

The team met at Elliot's place in early November to take photos for our print materials. The pictures came out great! Here's a photo of the full team (from left to right, Ayo, Jessica, Prakash, Dana, Elliot).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Team Update

December 28 is right around corner and the team has been meeting frequently to make final preparations for the trip. Since our last blog post, we've been meeting at Filter Cafe, our apartments in Chicago, at Prakash's place in Naperville, and holding conference calls and video chats on Skype. This variety and flexibility has been essential in keeping a continuous dialog between team members. After receiving our itineraries, we have been focusing on gifts for host families and Rotary Clubs, taking photos for brochures, and freshening up on some Gujarati! Another update in the next few days will dig into the details of this progress.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meet Prakasam Tata

Dr. Prakasam Tata is originally from Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, India. After his
M.Sc. degree in India and working there for seven years on rural water supply and
wastewater treatment problems, he migrated to USA and received his Ph.D. degree
in Environmental Sciences from Rutgers University, New Jersey. After serving on the
faculty of Cornell University, he moved to Chicago in 1974 to work at the Metropolitan
Water Reclamation District and retired in 2002 as the Assistant Director of the R & D
department. He is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Center for the
Transformation of Waste Technology, a non profit organization, and as a Distinguished
Professor of Environmental Health and Sciences at the Maharajah Institute of Medical
Sciences on an honorary basis. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Naperville and
served on its Board, International Service Committee, and District 6450’s Hunger
Committee. He and his wife, Padma, are blessed with two daughters and a son and five

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Team Update

Our regular meeting spot has been the Filter coffee house in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. This weekend we worked on finalizing our bios and aggregating fun facts about Chicago for our brochure. We've made sure to tie the facts into our own vocations. Some of the interesting ones we are thinking about sharing include:
  • The world’s largest public library is Harold Washington Library Center located at 400 S. State St.
  • The 4 stars on the Chicago flag represent Fort Dearborn, the Chicago Fire, the World's Columbian Exposition, and the Century of Progress Exposition.
  • The first televised U.S. presidential candidates’ debate was broadcast from Chicago’s CBS Studios on September 26, 1960, between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
  • Since, 1980, more than 750 feature films and television production have been made in Chicago, leaving behind $1.3 billion in the local economy.
  • Chicago is one of the world’s top ten global financial centers and and the second largest business district in the United States.
  • Chicago hosts 12 Fortune Global 500 companies
  • Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival held in Grant Park for the duration of 10 day and draws approximately 3.5 million people with over 70 vendors.
  • The Orthogenic school, where Dana works, was founded by the famous psychologist Bruno Bettelheim.  He was a front runner in changing treatment for mental illness by moving away from procedures used in hospitals and asylums.

Meet Elliot Hunt

Elliot Hunt is originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has lived in Chicago for a total of four years and proudly calls it home. He has cooked professionally for eight years, and currently is the lead line cook at mk restaurant, a fine dining establishment in downtown Chicago. He loves food and cooking but also enjoys spending his time visiting museums, travelling, homebrewing his own beer, playing scrabble, and riding his bike. He is excited to explore Gujarat and be exposed to all of it's wonderful cuisine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meet Jessica Mayberry

Jessica Mayberry was born and raised in Seattle, WA. Jessica attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA where she majored in English with a minor in Film and Visual Culture, graduating in 2008. Currently Jessica is an Office Manager at AnswersMedia, a Chicago based production company specializing in original programming, commercials, and interactive media. As the office manager, Jessica serves as an ambassador for the company managing daily activities and overseeing the intern client services training program. In addition to working at AnswersMedia, Jessica freelances as a Production Associate for various projects in the Chicagoland area. In her spare time Jessica enjoys dancing, traveling, bargain shopping, and trying new cuisines. Jessica is ecstatic to have the opportunity to explore Gujarat and all of its many jewels through Rotary’s Group Study Exchange program.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meet Dana Bellich

Dana was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She has now been in the city for two years living on the North side, near the lake! Dana graduated from Marquette University and earned degrees in Psychology, Education, and Spanish. During that time, she had the opportunity to work and study in Spain. She continues to travel back to Spain and many other places, as she love to learn about new cultures and see new places. Now, since she is back in Chicago, she is starting her third year teaching at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, which is on the South side of Chicago. She teaches Spanish to children who have emotional issues. After the workday, she is completing a Master's Degree in Special Education. With this degree, she plans on working the the Orthogenic School for many more years. Besides teaching and going to class, Dana enjoys learning the guitar, knitting, and playing sports. Dana is thrilled to be visiting Gujarat to learn about a new culture, meet new people, and share what she learns with her students!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meet Ayo Jimoh

Ayo Jimoh was born in Atlanta, GA but spent his youth in Boston, MA and then St. Louis, MO. He went on to attend Stanford University where he graduated with a degree in Management Science & Engineering in 2007. After graduation, Ayo moved back to the Midwest and joined the Systems department at McMaster-Carr Supply Co in Elmhurst, IL, just outside of Chicago. He is currently a Systems Project Manager and his team designs and develops new features for the company website, Outside of work, his hobbies include playing soccer, writing music, supporting Boston/St. Louis sports, and enjoying all of the social activities Chicago has to offer. He is extremely excited for the trip to Gujarat as it will be an educational and cultural experience like none other he has experienced. He has enjoyed getting to know the other team members and the team leader, and is counting down the days until departure in December!

Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to our blog! Here you'll be able to follow Dana Bellich, Elliot Hunt, Ayo Jimoh, and Jessica Mayberry as we embark on the District 6450 Group Study Exchange to Gujarat, India. We'll share stories, pictures, and videos as we prepare for our trip here in Chicago, and as we travel to various sites and location once we meet up with District 3060 in Gujarat!