Downtown Rotarians Reflect on Friendship Exchange Opportunities
Through Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary, leaders throughout our city have the opportunity to connect with like-minded members of the community and foster relationships that provide life-long value. In addition to connecting with fellow Sioux Falls and area residents, getting involved with Rotary can be a great way to connect with the world and meet individuals from other walks of life.
One way to connect internationally is through Friendship Exchange, an international exchange program for Rotary members and friends that allows participants to take turns hosting one another in their homes and clubs. Participants may travel as individuals, couples, families, or groups.
Downtown Rotarians Tim Kromminga and Dave Eiesland traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden in the summer of 2022 through a Rotary Friendship Exchange.
"It was an outstanding experience. The focus isn’t just on tourist sites or attractions but on developing relationships with the hosts and learning more about their culture," shares Kromminga. " We had a unique experience on our Exchange. All the hosts had arranged to spend the entire trip with us, so we traveled as a group of 20 people. This enabled us to build and develop lasting friendships. I tell everyone of the great experiences and that we have 10 new friends, they just happen to live in Sweden."
Eiesland recalls many favorite memories from the trip.
"Staying up late the night of summer solstice when there was light all night was memorable," said Eiesland. "Also, just sitting at the homes of our Sweden Rotarian hosts and visiting about their country, families, histories and dreams was the most beneficial. One night we not only all ate together at one long table, but we also sang Swedish and American songs to each other (and laughed a lot)."
The two have stayed connected to those they met through the experience.
"When we hosted our friends from Sweden, it was a reunion that we celebrated and continued the relationship that had been built," said Kromminga.
Eiesland encourages other Rotarians to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in a Friendship Exchange.
"Rotarians are great people to meet from all countries, as they are so understanding of others and know working together benefits everyone," shares Eiesland. "If at all possible, go. Staying with Rotarians gives you a matchless experience."
The Rotary International website lists the following as benefits to Friendship Exchange:
- Broaden international understanding
- Explore a profession or job in a different context
- Build enduring friendships
- Gain opportunities for active project involvement and support
- Learn about a region’s people, food, languages, customs, and history
- Find partners for grants