Group Study Exchange (GSE)

The Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for young business and professional men and women between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers.  Rotary districts in different countries are paired to send and receive professional study groups of four to six non-Rotarian team members and one Rotarian team leader to travel for four to six weeks, staying the homes of Rotarians when possible.  Team members experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships and exchange ideas. 

In a typical four week tour, team members participate in five full days of vocational visits, 15 to 20 club presentations, 10 to 15 formal visits and social events, two to three days at the district conference, three to four hours per day of cultural and site tours, and three to four hours per day of free time with host families.

For each team member, the Rotary Foundation provides the most economical round-trip airline ticket between the home and host countries.  Rotarians in the host area provide for meals, lodging and group travel within their district.

Launched in 1965, this dynamic program has built a successful track record at the personal, community, and international level. With good planning, a goal-driven itinerary, and active participation of dedicat­ed Rotarians, a GSE can be an exceptional educational experience for both the visiting GSE team and local Rotarians.  

Our records shows GSE has been supported by clubs in District 7780 since 1977-1978.  We are missing some years in the seventies and eighties plus some team member names but have all the information on the outgoing teams from 1990-1991 forward.  Prior to 1990-1991 many of our clubs were part of District 779.  In 1991, we had our only team leader and spouse go out with the team.  James Labrie was team leader and Ellen Labrie was allowed to go along.  Spouses are no longer allowed to travel with the team.

In 1995-1996, Sarah Luck was our first female team leader and the team went to Argentina that year.  In 2007-2008, Marty Helman led the first all female team to the Philippines.  In 2000-2001, it was our only year that two teams went out and two teams came in – we exchanged with Turkey and Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.  Our teams going out have consisted of as few as three and as many as six.  The average team has been five – one leader and four members.

We have had exchanges with the following countries:

Argentina - 1: Australia - 2; Brazil – 2; Dominica/Trinidad/Tobago – 1; Dominican Republic – 1; England – 1; Ethiopia/Kenya/Tanzania/Uganda – 1; Finland – 1; France – 2; Germany – 2; Hong Kong – 1; India – 4; Mexico – 1; Nigeria - 1; Philippines – 2; Poland – 1; Sweden/Poland – 1; Turkey – 2.

We have records for a total of 28 outgoing GSE teams.  We have had three Past District Governors be team leaders (James Labrie, Orville Ranger and Elias Thomas III) and five team leaders (Craig Wellman, Peter Johnson, Marty Helman, Carolyn Johnson, Lawrence Furbish and Sheila Rollins) who later became District Governor of District 7780.  Most of the teams have consisted of mixed professions.  We have had a lot of medical and educational team members. You name a profession and we have probably had someone in that field on a team.  It is an outstanding opportunity for one Rotarian as team leader and for four to five non-Rotarians to see how their vocation is practiced in another country.  Many international projects have resulted from GSE visits!

The Rotary year 2012-2013 was the last year of the GSE program in the form we have known of a Rotary team leader and non-Rotarian team members. In the Rotary year 2013-2014, we went to what was called Cultural Exchanges where the teams were made of Rotarians and non-Rotarians.