Thursday, July 11, 2013

From Venezuela to the US to South Korea

This week we had a great opportunity to start off the new Rotary year with a great speaker, Ruben Reyes, who was sponsored by The Rotary Club of Northeast Sunrisers in Philadelphia to be a part of The Rotary District 7450 Group Study Exchange Experience in Seoul, South Korea this past April. As part of a five person exchange, Mr. Reyes spent four weeks abroad learning about Korean culture and cultivating good will as one of the representatives from our Rotary district. Our club also had the opportunity to meet the Korean team during their visit in April to the Philadelphia area.

A native of Venezuela, Mr. Reyes resides in Philadelphia and is a Principal and Founding Partner of Lyquix, a marketing and technology firm based in Philadelphia, responsible for overseeing all the technology and usability aspects of projects. Given his marketing and technology background, he offered an interesting perspective of both the experience and the progress that surrounded the team throughout the exchange. Other members of the team comprised of other nationalities and professions which provided for a dynamic and interesting experience for all.

“Being part of the GSE team is at the same time an honor, and a very exciting adventure. As I was expecting, our team represents very diverse professions, aptitudes, and personalities. What I didn’t expect was to find that 3 out of 5 of us are born and raised outside the US. Blandine is from France, Tae is from Thailand, and I am from Venezuela.” Mr. Reyes continued, “While, we certainly don’t represent the struggles of immigrants that have escaped oppression, war, or poverty, for whom freedom and prosperity was denied to them in their home lands, we are proud to have the opportunity to visit South Korea to promote goodwill from both the U.S. and our home countries. This team truly represents the notion that the United States is a melting pot of cultures.”

All present at the weekly meeting were impressed with the way Mr. Reyes presented himself and how the members of the GSE team represented the district. We were also intrigued to find out about some of the many cultural and Rotary related differences between our two countries most notably the sheer volume of food present at meals and the fact that certain Rotary clubs have their own buildings. Overall, the message presented to the club reinforced our previous experience from our international guests from District 3600 months ago that the people of South Korea are incredibly warm, good hearted, and motivated by a love of peace and community.

The GSE program is something that we are all looking forward to hearing about again from both sides in the future as it illustrates one of the beauties of being a part of the world’s largest service centric organization. The connection we all share as Rotarians goes beyond language, culture, and country. Service knows no boundaries and peace needs no translation. 

To read more about The Rotary District 7450 Group Study Exchange Experience in Seoul, South Korea this past April visit the team's blog at You can also browse the plethora of pictures posted on flickr at (this is where the pictures were taken from for this post). The YouTube video is courtesy of Past President Richard M. Trivane.