The club welcomed Bob Landry a member of the Rotary Club of Rayne and District 6200 Friendship Exchange co-chair, to its meeting to learn more about what Friendship Exchanges are and how they could participate.
The district began participating in 2004, according to Landry and restarted (after Hurricane Katrina) in 2007. It has been going strong ever since.
Each year, a group of about 10 people from the district (five couples) travel to a designated place where they spend 14-16 days traveling the area in organized tours to learn more about the area.
The next trip set will be Australia, where Australians will travel to Louisiana in April, around the time of Festivale Internationale, as is the case each year. The visitors fly into New Orleans where they are given two days to themselves to explore the Crescent City. After that, the organized trips begin. The first stop is the Houma/Thibodaux area, then it is on to Lake Charles, then Lafayette (typically coinciding with the festival) and finally Baton Ruge. Each stop lasts about three days and each area has a separate and pre-approved itinerary that show the visitors how people in this area live.
“They don’t know much about this area, only what they see on TV,” said Landry.
But as Landry pointed out, television shows do not tell the whole story of Louisiana, particularly the District 6200 area.
The cost ranges and depends on how far the group is traveling, but, on average, couples will pay $2,000-5,000 for the two week trip.
Then, in October, as Landry explained, it is Louisiana’s turn to travel.
While visiting the foreign country, host families house people, and Landry explained how hosts are also needed for the trips, but there are opportunities for the Rotarians to either host a couple or travel.
“I encourage everyone to get involved in this, it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Outside of the fun of traveling, those who participate also become ambassadors for their home state and country for other Rotary clubs, and travelers can expect several Rotary Club stops during their visit.
Rotarians interested in learning more about Friendship Exchange can visit the district’s website at http://www.rotary6200.org/friendship/.