New faces, youthful spirit lift energy at Rotary meeting

Tom KingFarragut

The first meeting of 2019 for the Rotary Club of Farragut was, well, different. It was filled with energy, a certain spirit that doesn’t happen every week. It’s hard to describe beyond that.

Wednesday’s meeting culminated with a program by our inbound Rotary Youth Exchange student from Dresden, Germany – Antonia Schmitz-Peiffer. It was a perfect ending.

The club inducted a new member, received two new member proposals, heard from two current members in what we call “Member Moments” – past presidents Peggy Wilson and Lucas Shouse – and learned about several upcoming opportunities for service in our community, including World Rotary Day at Maynard Elementary School on Feb. 23.

It was a full house, with standing room only in the big room at Fox Den Country Club, and we had to add tables to accommodate the crowd. We inducted our 92nd member, a past district governor of District 6930 in Florida, Dave Freudenberg, who recently moved here from Boca Raton.

Then we heard from Antonia, 17, a junior at Webb School who plays the flute in the school band. This is her first visit to the United States, and she said, “I love America. I have made so many new friends here who will be friends for life.”

She arrived in August 2018, just before school began, and will return to Dresden in summer 2019 when her exchange year comes to an end. On Wednesday, she gave a presentation with a slideshow about her home, her family and her country. We saw the beautiful castles of Dresden, the rebuilt churches from the ruins of World War II, the beautiful countryside, her school, their forms of public transportation and stunning riverfronts.

We asked Antonia what she misses the most from home, other than her family, of course. Keep in mind that Dresden is a city of 550,000. “I miss my bike the most, and I miss our public transportation at home that you don’t have here – the trains, the buses and the trolleys,” she said. “Dresden is big and it’s easy to get around, and here you can’t do that.” At home she has a 12-minute bike ride to her school, St. Benno.

Accompanying her at our meeting were her current host parents, Cindy and Paul Kraus, and their son, Cole, who also attends Webb; her first host family, Brigette and Christian Kunz; and her next host mother, Maggie Reynolds, who has two kids at Webb.

This young woman is also learning Mandarin Chinese and played on the Webb volleyball team this past fall.

Her presentation was the perfect way to end this special Rotary meeting.

If you’re interested in exploring membership in Farragut Rotary, drop me an email or call me at (865) 659-3562. We meet at 12:15 p.m. each Wednesday at Fox Den Country Club. Join us as a guest and see how you like Rotary!

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