June 1, 2, and 3, 2012, Hugh & Betty, Eric & Beth, Bonnie & Keith and Sonia & Rita and Trisna, of course, attended the District Conference at the Marriot in South Portland, Maine.  Arriving in sunshine, Mother Nature put the kibosh on the golf tournament for Saturday.

Friday evening, once we were all settled into our rooms, we started the evening off with cocktail hour and then proceeded into the ballroom for a wonderful dinner and presentations.  We met the German GSE team and Foundation and Membership awards were given out. 

During cocktail hour we were impressed by some of the international attire.  Our very own Hugh and Betty Haggarty and Eric Anderson joined in the fun.  Two of the Exchange Students blessed us with their great talent on the piano.  While their music played we mingled with other club members and best of all met some of the other Exchange Students.  For a short time, at dinner, Gustav from Sweden sat with us and shortly after we had the pleasure of getting to know Danto from Japan. 

It was international night, so we dinner consisted of three wonderful buffets; one with Asian fare, one with Mediterranean fare and the other, good ole American far.  We dined on dishes such as stuffed grape leaves, chicken stir-fry and prime rib!  To top it all off, delicious fruit filled and chocolate desserts with coffee and tea.

The evening ended with belly busting laughter through the entertainment of Bobby Darling and Dr. Divine.  If you ever have a chance to see them, my recommendation is “go”!

Saturday we had a wonderful breakfast buffet awaiting us. Then off to our plenary sessions consisting of a business meeting, the enlightening five minute speech by the winner of the 4 way test speech contest, and four club project presentations.  We had hoped to Skype with our GSE team in Germany, but unfortunately, technology was acting up, much like Mother Nature! We headed for a bit of “free time”.  This is the time Rotary Clubs were going to converge on the golf course in hopes of beating Chris Parkinson’s team.  Unfortunately y, Mother Nature did not cooperate.  The tournament was indeed called off!  Some members donated their pre-paid tournament fees to end Polio.  Thank you Eric and Keith for your donations.

Although the weather was rainy, some of us made our way up to Freeport to do a little shopping at L.L. Bean and sprinting between raindrops, visiting some of the outlets surrounding L.L. Bean.  The Exchange Students went to the beach!!!

Back to the hotel and ready for dinner, Saturday evening the Exchange students are introduced while presenting their countries’ flags.  Some wore beautiful articles of clothing which also represented their country. 

A formal dinner was served and once again followed up with a beautiful and delicious dessert.  The Rotary Wheel ice sculpture was quite to conversation piece and a beautiful representation of Rotary.

Sunday morning kicked off with a wonderful buffet of breakfast foods, juice, tea and coffee.  Worship was held for those who wanted to attend.  Then off to our final session.  Although I do not remember much of it, due to the emotions of preparing to say good bye once again to a beautiful Exchange Student, I was able to speak at the conference this year about our experiences of hosting Exchange Students.  I was able to personally introduce Trisna to everyone in attendance. 

Following my speech, we heard from each Exchange Student as they took a couple minutes to share their joys and excitement of their experiences here and the thoughts of returning to their own countries. 

This was most of the students’ final hours of being together as a group.  It was an incredibly sad time for all of them.

It would be fantastic to get more and more Rotarians to attend the District Conference each year.  It is a wonderful weekend away.  It gives us a time to really see all that Rotary does for our world.  Next year the District Conference is a 7 day cruise to Bermuda.  Hmmmm, is it on your calendar?  Start saving your pennies.