Zooming now seems to be the preferred way for businesses to conduct meetings and for keeping in contact with family near and far. Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) is no exception and for the last five weeks the club has been holding weekly meetings via Zoom.
On Wednesday there were a total of 31 participants including guests from the Rotary Club Estoi Palace International, from the UK, Germany and two very special guests from India, Bhanu Gupta and his wife Divya from the Rotary Club – Metro Ahmedabad. There was even a guest speaker, João Martins, the youngest member of RC Estoi Palace who recently and before the lock-down spent two weeks in India as one of two Portuguese nationals chosen to attend the Discover India Camp, along with young people representing thirteen nationalities.
The first ‘Discover India Camp’ which is part of the Rotary Short Term Exchanges took place in 2015. AIRC subsequently sponsored one student for the 2018 edition. AIRC member Dr Raymond Parfait as District 1960 Summer Camps Outbound Coordinator receives applications from sponsoring Rotary Clubs in Portugal which, after verification and endorsement are sent to Bhanu who is the camp organiser in India. In 2017 Raymond in conversation with Bhanu and Carmen Lopez-Videla, a Spanish Youth Exchange Officer suggested they should organise an India tour for YEOs and as a result the first Incredible India tour for YEOs took place in January/February 2018 when six adults from AIRC and two from a Lisbon Rotary Club spent two amazing weeks touring India.
João gave a presentation entitled “My Incredible India Experience” complete with slide show of the places he had visited and the people he met. During the two weeks he was hosted by different Rotary families who took him to see some of the wonderful sights India has to offer. He of course mentioned the crazy traffic, especially in New Delhi and the time spent in Jaipur, the city with many lakes known as The Pink City. He even went rafting in the Ganges. He mentioned that religion in India shapes daily lives in everything and there are many different religions. He was particularly impressed by his visit to a Sikh temple which is open to anyone no matter what religion they are or even no religion and where they run a 24 hour kitchen run by volunteers where they offer free food to everyone. On one occasion João went to a polo match where he was introduced to the Maharaja of Jaipur. He was even lucky enough to be invited to a traditional Indian wedding attended by 200 guests who enjoyed incredible food and dancing and, of course no visit to India would be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal.
AIRC President Mark Hulit said “We are of course disappointed that we are unable to meet up in person at the Conrad Hotel but we are lucky to have the technology enabling us to keep in touch during these difficult times. We will continue these virtual meetings as long as is necessary and the Portuguese government continues their good work in keeping us safe”.