LaPlace club has connection to ‘Service’ in Czech Republic

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The LaPlace Rotary Club got a glimpse this week of just some of the good their work with the District 6840 club does, towards furthering their goal around the world.

With a motto of “Service Above Self,” one of the things done by the District Club each year is to sponsor a student to go abroad for a year, not only allowing that student a chance to learn about another culture, but also contribute some good to it.

This past year, Chrissy Gilder, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hattiesburg, was the District 6840 Rotary Ambassador Scholar. The LaPlace Rotary Club contributes towards the funds that help sponsor the local student.

Gilder selected the Czech Republic for her year out of the country, and made a stop at the LaPlace Rotary Club weekly meeting on Tuesday to tell about just a little of her experience.

“It was a beautiful experience to go there,” she said. “At first the language barrier slowed me down, but eventually I learned to speak the language enough that I was able to do what I went to do, and that was to give back to their community.”

Gilder stayed in Prague and went to Charles University, beginning to stay in a very small dorm that had a small kitchen that 30 students shared. Eventually she was able to get her own apartment.

“We did our dishes in the same place we took our shower,” she said with a laugh, obviously keeping a good attitude about whatever she encountered.

But she said the people of Prague were so friendly, and the Rotary Club there welcomed her with open arms, taking her to many places to “show me off,” she said with another laugh.

Gilder said that her parents were Rotarians, and when she was young, they hosted a student from another country, making her want to do something similar by going overseas.

“It was a little bit of a surprise since I was led to believe I would go over there and the Rotary Club there had a translator for me. But when I got there, they thought I knew how to speak their language,” she said. “So it took a while to learn.”

Gilder is already fluent in Spanish and can speak French pretty well also, so the new language to add was something she was able to handle.

“Once I learned the language, I was looking for ways to do what I went over there to do,” she said. “First I was able to join an ambassador program and welcome visitors to the country, but finally when I was able to speak the language better, I was able to work in a school with handicapped students, teaching them English. That was very rewarding.”

LaPlace Rotary Club Cheryl Millet welcomed Gilder to their meeting this week, making the point to local club members of how their work to raise funds for such ambassador programs is a further way to reach their goal of “Service Above Self.”