University of Moratuwa, Katubedda, Sri Lanka.

+94 713 826 109

Tag: Together We Stand

BlogInternational Services

Together We Stand | Meeting With Indian Rotaract Friends

If a Rotaractor is to travel the world, he or she is bound to meet a Rotaract friend in any corner of the world, especially when the “Rotaract Couch” Facebook group is making millions of Rotaract connections. So, when myself and my partner Rtr. Himantha decided to visit Paris, we too posted in ‘Rotaract Couch’. We got several welcoming replies and some Rotaractors were even willing to help with accommodation.

One of the cheering replies were from Rtr. PP Sakshi Anand (Rotaract Club of Delhi Akash) who is studying in Paris. Much to our surprise, and hers, Rtr. Himantha and Rtr. Sakshi had a letterhead exchanged between our clubs when Rtr. Himantha visited India for Rotasia 2020. Rtr. Sakshi suggested her colleague Rtr. Dolphy Chawla who was also made an acquaintance then would like to meet us.  So, we were all excited to meet again in a different land, flourishing the old friendships even more.

Due to the tight schedule we had, we were limited to spending a short but memorable evening on the 10th of April with our Rotaract friends. Initially, we planned to meet at the Eiffel tower, but due to time constraints we decided to take the Paris ‘Big Bus Tour’ from Notre dame cathedral to ‘Arc de Triomphe’. Two of us had quite a trouble stepping onto the bus because we couldn’t find the correct big bus stop and Google maps made us take rounds for nearly an hour. When we were almost thinking of giving up and turning back, luckily, we caught the much-awaited ‘big bus’ ride.

Finally, we met at Arc de Triomphe, the great monument in Paris dedicated to fallen soldiers. It says that beneath the Arc there is a Tomb of an Unknown Soldier from World War I. We watched the daily 6.30 PM rekindling ritual of the eternal flame torched in remembrance of those who defended France.

Along with Rtr. Sakshi and Rtr. Dolphy, it was a pleasure to meet Dean Simons, the beloved brother of Rtr. Craig Leon, the lovely moderator of Rotaract Couch. We didn’t miss the chance to take photographs in the middle of the street posing with the iconic monument. ‘Arc de Triomphe’ was just as glorious as we heard it to be, colored by the golden dusk by the evening sun.

After the warm greetings and introductions, we strolled down the elite street of Champs-Élysées. In French, Champs-Élysées’ means the mythical Greek paradise, the Elysian Fields.  Today it is renowned as the third most expensive street in the world with high-end shops and cafes. It is also famous as the site of the Tour de France’s final stage and holds the annual Bastille Day military parade.

Our hosts of the evening suggested that we taste the best of Falafel in town at LA’s. Falafel is a Middle Eastern cuisine with deep-fried ball shaped made from chickpeas. It is commonly served in a pita or wrapped in a flatbread. There are many flavours and ingredients, which you can select upon your liking.  We took Metro Line 1 from George V metro station in Champs-Élysées to reach Saint-Paul metro station. We then walked for about 5 minutes to reach LA’s.

At first, we were wondering why this specific shop, but when we reached there, we realized why it is. Though there were other Falafel shops on the street, this shop had a very long queue and we had to wait around half an hour to grab ours. One member from the staff came to us in the queue and collected our order, while enabling us to make the payment as well. Then once we reached the front of the queue, we were able to customize the Falafel by adding different ingredients & flavors.  After staying in the queue for almost one hour, we tasted a scrumptious Falafel treated by our new friend Dean. We tried the vege spicy flavour and it was one of the best Falafels we ever had.

The clock ticked very fast as we chattered endlessly about our interests, countries, culture and how Rotaract connects people together. It was indeed a very lively and memorable evening and with promises to meet another time we bid farewell.

Happy reading!

Penned By: Rtr. Prabodha Chamarie

BlogInternational Services

Together We Stand | Luzern

When the initial plan for the visit to Switzerland was set, Lucerne was identified as a central city where multiple attractions are based in the vicinity. As a result, multiple days were allocated to explore the area, hence an additional time to bond with any Rotaract clubs based in Lucerne. When the list of available clubs in Switzerland was scrutinized, we found RAC Luzern, which is a community-based club located in Lucerne. The next step was to get in touch with them. A simple message to the Facebook page of RAC Luzern was warmly greeted by the President-Elect Rtr. Milena Aregger. Rather than being limited to a typical meetup, she invited us to visit her home in Lucerne for a traditional Swiss Dinner!

On the eve of the dinner, we managed to have a glimpse of the city of Lucerne. Lucerne is a city mixed with both modern and medieval architecture. Bordered by the picturesque Lake Lucerne, this city’s attractiveness is heightened by the Mount Pilatus, which stands tall in the outskirts, which is being proudly spoken by the locals. Lion’s Memorial has been built to commemorate the Swiss guards that were killed during the French revolution.

Museggmauer or the City walls is another historical attraction situated within the city. There are 9 watch towers within Museggmauer, which provide a panoramic view of the city. It is fair to say that the Kapellbrücke or the Chapel bridge situated in Lucerne city center is the most popular attraction out of all. A covered wooden footbridge spanning across River Reuss add a sense of antiqueness to the city architecture and is the oldest of its kind in Europe. 

Around 6.15 pm in the evening on 19th April, we were picked up from the Lucerne Railway Station by the Director – Program, Rtr. Monica Odermatt. After driving through the streets in the city, we moved to a highway. Rtr. Monica explained how the highways in Switzerland work. Apart from the normal speed lanes, there is a fast lane on the highway as well. An annual toll sticker has to be purchased for passenger cars, trucks and pasted on the windshields. If you break the speed limits or highway rules, the fine will be sent to your home through an email. One unlucky passenger car provided us a live demonstration on how automated speed cameras capture over-speeding on the highway. After a half an hour drive through the outskirts of Lucerne, we reached Milena’s home.

Rtr. Milena gave us a warm welcome and accompanied us to the dinner table. We were joined by Rtr. Sarah, the Director of IT & Finance of RAC Luzern. The table was coloured with Raclette Cheese, Pizza ingredients, vegetables and Easter bunnies. We were provided with a detailed introduction of each food item and ingredient on the table by Rtr. Milena. A variety of Raclette Cheese such as peppered, smoked, paprika, garlic were available on the table. Boiled potatoes, cornichons & pineapple were also available to be consumed with Raclette Cheese. Rivella, the famous Swiss juice was available as a beverage. Monika & Sarah helped us in preparing our dinner and demonstrated how to melt Raclette Cheese in the specially made grill.  

During the dinner, we discussed about the service rendered by the two clubs, along with the administrative structure. Being a club focusing primarily on fellowship, Rtr. Milena explained about the club service activities of RAC Luzern. Similarity, we emphasized on the community service activities and other avenue project that are being organized by RAC Alumni Mora.

After conversing about club activities, the discussion moved into personal lives. Milena is a nurse at a hospital in Lucerne by profession, Monica is a caretaker of senior citizens at an elders’ home and Sarah is a dancing instructor. It was nice to get a glimpse of their lifestyle in Switzerland as it was totally different to the ones of us Asians. Rtr. Milena elaborated about her visit to Sri Lanka in last November. She has stayed two weeks at a resort in Weligama and has enjoyed surfing during her stay. We were glad to hear that she knows about Mangroves and their importance in preventing coastal erosion.

After a sumptuous dinner, Rtr. Milena accompanied us to her home garden. She introduced the vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit plants in the garden and even prompted us to check the fragrance. The kind of plants found in her garden was quite unique to us as we do not see those varieties in our locals. She explained about the crop season and how well her mother maintains the home garden. Rtr. Milena then picked a few leaves from the peppermint plant and prepared peppermint flavoured tea for us. Hands down, that was one of the best flavoured teas that we have ever tasted.

Gifts, tokens and letterheads were exchanged between the two clubs. RAC Luzern had prepared a set of valuable gifts which we are very thankful for. As the dusk turned into the dark, we bid adieu to the lovely Rotaractors from Lucerne.  Rtr. Monika was very kind enough to drop us back to Lucerne Railway Station after we bid farewell to Rtr Milena.

It was one of the best hospitalities we have ever experienced during a Rotaract International visit.

Happy reading!

Penned By: Rtr. Himantha Alahakoon