Members Attending (16): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Bob Horan, Ron Annis, Charlie Foote, Geoff Brewer, Ray Hannan, David Taylor, Roberto Martinez.
Guests (6): Monika Annis, Becky Raymond, Julius Frankel, Madison Bryda, Emily Rollson, Ben Sherwood.
PROGRAM: “From Vikings to Swedes: A Strange People”
Our speakers were club member Ron Annis and his wife Monika, who presented a PowerPoint program on life in Sweden — Monika’s home country and Ron’s adopted home, where they spend about half of each year and where their children live.
Ron initially used a humorous approach to explain some differences between Swedish and American tastes in food and drink, in lifestyle, and in government requirements of their citizens. (See accompanying photos, and click to enlarge.)
But, he also tapped into some serious observations about life in Sweden. For example, government there uses heavy taxation to try equalizing income among its residents, to curb alcohol consumption, and to carry out its efforts for a zero-carbon footprint nationwide.
While the government provides many no-charge or low-cost services — college education, medical care, transportation subsidies, etc. — they are not “free” as commonly believed. Rather, very heavy taxation pays for them. And, the government requires citizens and immigrants alike to be involved in all educational, language, and residency programs in an effort to have a balanced society and avoid ethnic enclaves that could foment the sorts of troubles experienced in other European countries due to immigration waves. Sweden has taken in about 100,000 Middle Eastern immigrants.
Ron said there are three Rotary clubs in Gävle, the city in which the Annises live, all roughly the size of our club.
Monika explained a darker side of the Swedish nature, and read a poem that touched on it. She noted that the general population, which once was heavily religious, now is largely atheistic.
• YOUTH PROGRAMS — Bob Horan, club member and superintendent of the Schodack Central School District, introduced three of the five Maple Hill High School juniors who just completed the 2015-16 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program with tuition paid for by our club. They were Ben Sherwood, Madison Bryda, and Emily Rollson. Each said a few words about how their six months of RYLA training already is helping them in their school lives and how they hope it will enhance their senior year. President Terry Brewer told the students we may call on them as we proceed with plans to create an Interact club at Maple Hill, and Peter Brown told them we are reviving our foreign exchange program with one Maple Hill student scheduled to study in Italy and perhaps some foreign students coming here.
• MEMBERSHIP — President Terry Brewer announced that Monika Annis and Becky Raymond have formally applied for membership in the SRC club, and noted that we have several other potential members in the pipeline. Once Monika and Becky join us, our membership will be 43, compared to the 30 we had at the start of the 2015-16 Rotary Year.
• ROTARY HOME COOKING — Pat Bailey hosted the most recent dinner in the series. Next up is the April 16 dinner at the Dowd residence, and all seats are taken.
• BUSINESS EXPO — We will have a table at the 2nd annual Business Expo hosted by the Capital Region Rotary Club on Tuesday, April 5 at the Radisson Hotel on Wolf Road in Colonie.
• GRANT TRAINING — Five club members have volunteered to participate in the annual District 7190 grant training workshop on Saturday, April 9. Participation by at least two club members is mandatory to be eligible for district grants each year. We will apply for a grant to help the Freedom From Fistula Foundation that operates in the African nation of Malawi.
• SUNSHINE PROGRAM — April Dowd has agreed to take on the duties of handling cards, baskets, flowers, and other needs for members with illness or hospitalization.
NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at Quigley’s. Sharon Wheeler and Jennifer Kilinski will present a program on medical therapy at Albany Medical Center.