Rotary Club selects Madison librarian to go to Australia

By Staff
Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
As a librarian, Stephenie Walker has had the opportunity to do a lot of reading and studying about different countries throughout the world.
She's taken that knowledge and directed it to the youth of Madison as the youth services director at Madison Public Library. Next March, Walker will get the opportunity to expand her desire to learn more about other countries while on a trip to Australia as part of The Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Program.
As a guest attending a recent meeting of the Madison Rotary Club, Walker was asked to talk about the Madison Public Library and her work as the youth services director. Following that meeting, she was approached by one of its members and told about an opportunity offered by The Rotary Foundation for people here in the United States to travel to other countries during a four to six week period to experience the host country's institutions and ways of life, observe their own vocations as practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.
For Walker, she will get the opportunity to share her knowledge and expertise as a librarian here in this country and work with those who are in the same profession in Australia.
According to John Allen, president of the Madison Rotary Club, The Rotary Foundation provides a round-trip air ticket between the home and host countries. Local Rotarians in the host area will provide for meals, lodging, and group travel within their district.
"The Madison club is very pleased to be able to sponsor Stephenie in this tremendous opportunity," Allen said. "Our club continues to be active in searching out those opportunities within our Rotary International organization, such as the GSE program, where we as a club can make a difference locally and internationally. "
The GSE team consists of four non-Rotarian business or professional people and a Rotarian team leader. During the tour, GSE team members are expected to accept the decisions of the Rotarian team leader, fulfill any requirements to speak at host district gatherings, remain with the group throughout the study tour except when individual activities are planned. After the trip, the GSE team members are expected to prepare and submit final reports of the tour as required by the sponsoring district and speak about the study tour experiences to Rotary clubs and other groups.
Walker said she's very excited about being selected to go to Australia.
"This is not my first time to travel overseas, but it is the first time I've ever been to Australia. I'm very excited about this opportunity," Walker said.
Walker will stay with host families while in Australia. About a third of the time spent in Australia will be dedicated to studying with others in the same profession. The rest of the time will be spent sightseeing.
She said she's been doing a lot of studying about Australia, but finds the country a little different than others, in that there is not a lot of written history about the country. She said she would get the opportunity to talk and read to Australian children and hopes to return with a wealth of cultural knowledge from the land down under.
"I'll be taking things from Alabama with me on the trip to leave with the people I come in contact with in Australia," Walker said. "My husband and the people I work with at the library are very supportive of me in this trip. I hope to learn a lot, as well as teach others about our lives here in Alabama."

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