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Minnesota Visitors Warmed by Rotary Welcome

April 18, 2005 – Five residents of Minnesota said thank you to their St. Croix Rotary hosts Monday night as they prepared to depart for St. Thomas on Tuesday.
The Group Study Team, whose visit was sponsored by the four Rotary Clubs on St. Croix, will spend until Saturday on St. Thomas and then depart to attend the Rotary district meeting on St. Martin.
Team leader Keith Sjoquist invited all the Crucians at the reception at Gertrude's to visit Minnesota, but warned, "You better come in winter, summer might be too much of a shock."
The purpose of Rotary cultural exchange of professionals is for individuals to learn about other cultures. A team of professionals traveled from the Virgin Islands to Minnesota late last fall. Sjoquist said, "We hope every team member will return to be a better member of their community and also take back some knowledge of the culture."
The exchange programs starting becoming popular with Rotary Clubs world wide about 10 years ago.
This was the second year that David Beck coordinated a visit on St. Croix. He said the four islands clubs have banded together for several years now to sponsor the tour. He said, "This way we share the burden and we share the fun." The visitors don't stay at hotels, they stay at Rotarians' homes.
Beck said, "A lot of this is about fellowship." This was evident as the two groups joked with each other. One member of the team felt it was necessary to point out to Crucians that "ice fishing" was not fishing for ice, it was fishing through the ice.
But the exchange has a vocational component to it also. Sjoquist, an architect, spent Monday with developer Richard Borck, looking at some of Borck's projects on St. Croix. Sjoquist said he really liked the architectural style of many of St. Croix's buildings, but added, "I don't think much of it is suitable for Minnesota."
Angela Schmieg, a magazine production manager, spent much of her day at the Avis. She said she was amazed at how everything was done in-house. She said her magazine publishing company sent much of their work out to printers, designers, and free lancers. She wasn't sure whether she was going to visit the Daily News.
Before the group arrived in St. Croix, it spent time on Tortola. She visited a printing plant there. She said she was surprised. "I thought they would be using different software and hardware, but it was exactly the same that we use."
The group's last morning on St. Croix promised to be a pleasant one. They were to sail to Buck Island, before heading to St. Thomas.
St. Thomas should not be too hard for them either. Besides making presentations at the Rotary clubs, they will attend Carnival Night at the Bolongo Bay Resort on Wednesday.
The group arrived on St. Croix by taking the Fast Ferry. They will return on the Seaplane.
Among the activities they participated in on St. Croix were a walking tour of Christiansted, lunch with Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, a driving tour of the island (this included stops at the rum distillery, Point Udall and the St. George Botanical Gardens), and the Sunset Jazz Festival in Frederiksted.
At the reception Monday each member talked a little about who they were and what it meant to be living in Minnesota.
Team member Jared Tague said, "If you want to know what it is like in Minnesota, open you freezer and stick you hand in. That is a warm day in Minnesota."
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