Rotary International - One Rotary Center - Evanston, Illinois

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 ROTARY NEWS BASKET                                      06 MARCH 1996

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The Rotary News Basket offers information on activities, events, programs and people of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation. Reports are changed each Wednesday by 5 p.m. Central Time. (On CompuServe, the information is changed on Thursdays at about 11 a.m. Central Time.) Editors of Rotary club and district publications are welcome to reprint all or part of any item. News Basket is not copyrighted and its contents may be distributed to public news organizations without special permission.

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A teacher exchange program started and managed by Texas Rotary District 5790 has expanded to include its first participants from outside North America. Two teachers from Argentina spent the month of January teaching Spanish in Texas through the district's Rotary Teacher Exchange, which previously operated only between the U.S. and Mexico.

Since the program was established during the 1991-92 Rotary year, dozens of volunteer teachers have traveled between the U.S. and Mexico teaching their native language to business and professional people, workers in the tourist industry, law enforcement officers, schoolchildren and other teachers. The teachers' transportation is funded by Rotary clubs in their native country while their room and board is provided by Rotarians in the communities they visit.

The Argentineans, whose participation was initiated by RI President-elect Luis Giay, a fellow countryman, were hosted by Rotarians in two Texas cities -- Marta Rabellino in Abilene and Antonio Restano in Fort Worth. Rabellino taught Spanish to university students, police officers and telephone operators. She also visited elementary, middle and high schools and spoke to Spanish classes and met with faculty.

"Everything I can see or hear will be helpful," Rabellino said. "I am visiting and talking with students, asking about their lives and what they are interested in," she said. "I want to know about them so my students [at home] can know about them." She added that she hoped to start a pen-pal program when she returned to Argentina.

Restano also maintained a busy schedule, teaching Spanish to police officers, hospital staff, and members of a Hispanic chamber of commerce. He also participated in a faculty discussion group at a community college.

Conrad Heede, past governor of District 5790 and chairman of the exchange program, told News Basket he made contacts at the International Institute in Anaheim, California, in February that he anticipates will lead to other new countries sending and receiving teachers. "This is not the end but just the beginning," said Rabellino as she prepared to return home, "the beginning of a close relationship between our Rotary districts, our students and our countries."

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