Rotary sends professionals to Southern Illinois

Five young professionals from East Anglia are being given the opportunity to develop their careers on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to America.

Thanks to the sponsorship of local Rotary clubs, the group will embark on a vocational trip during April to Southern Illinois, an area with rural similarities to the eastern region.

This year's team consists of two members from the economic development and strategy unit at Norfolk County Council - monitoring and appraisal officer Roberta Blackman, 24, from Mulbarton, and planning analyst Ellen Jones, 27, from Keswick – Louise Cardwell, 26, from Ipswich, a matrimonial and collaborative lawyer for Atkins Thomson, Rob Bristow, 28, from Peterborough, an advanced nurse practitioner for the NHS and Hannah Bennett, 26, from Cambridge, a professional fund-raiser for Arthur Rank Hospice.

The team will be led by Rotarian Kate Secker, director of Human Resources for Norwich University College of the Arts and member of the Rotary Club of St Edmunds. The team is being sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Norwich, Norwich St Edmunds, Sudbury, Cambridge and Chatteris.

The Rotary Foundation's Group Study Exchange (GSE) programme is a unique cultural and vocational opportunity for professionals aged between 24 and 40. For four weeks, team members experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop professional relationships and exchange ideas.

Rotary district governor Rodney Howell said: 'This is a fantastic career opportunity for some of the region's brightest young professionals and we're delighted to be supporting tomorrow's business leaders.'

The team will give presentations on growing business sectors, attractions and the history of East Anglia. They will also be highlighting the work of this year's Rotary charity, Aid to Hospitals, which repairs and redistributes obsolete medical and IT equipment to third world countries.

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Some of the cultural highlights of the trip include visits to the Shawnee National Park, the Amish County in Kentucky and watching a St Louis Cardinals baseball game.

Rotary organises an annual exchange and is always on the lookout for young professionals to take part. Previous exchanges include Brazil, India and Zambia. For more information on applying for the 2012 GSE visit, contact your local Rotary club.