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Young Indian Rotarians tour Auburn

Rotary exchange program connects people from across the globe
By: Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
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A group of five young professionals from India toured Auburn Monday afternoon, learning about the city’s history and culture. The team is visiting the area through Rotary’s Group Study Exchange program. The young professionals, from a Rotary district in the southern coastal region of India, are staying with host families from Rotary in the Auburn area and visited their American professional counterparts Monday. Attorney Ashwin Kaliappa from the Coimbatore Rotary Club visited with local attorneys and learned about the American judicial system. Kaliappa is a defense attorney for a private firm. “I had a great time here and learned about the jury system,” Kaliappa said. “I was so impressed with the different court systems.” Kaliappa said in India there is no jury of one’s peers, just a judge or a panel of judges. Haresh Pandya visited the physics department at Sierra College to compare notes with other physics professors. “I’ve been enjoying everything that’s been presented to us,” Pandya said. He said they’ve met some amazing people and made lasting friendships. Kannammai Sevugan said her favorite part of the trip so far was seeing snow when they visited the Reno area. “We got to see the snow,” Sevugan said. “It was fascinating.” She said they don’t have snow in her part of India. Sevugan is a business unit head at an information technology company. She has a husband and a 10-year-old daughter at home. “I’m a homesick lady,” Sevugan said. “But I’ve never seen such a host family.” The entire team was impressed with the reception they received in California. Sevugan said for her especially coming to America has been a dream. “As an IT professional placing my foot in the land of the stripes and stars is a passion,” Sevugan said. Sunitha Satheesh visited four different schools on her tour of Placer County. She’s a vice principal in India. She said the systems are similar in theory and practice, although the American classrooms are better equipped. “School is always home for me,” Satheesh said. Auburn Rotarian Bill Radakovitz helped organize the group’s visit. They visited the historic Courthouse and toured the Placer County Museum and Old Town. "They are pretty busy trying to experience as much as they can of our culture and history,” Radakovitz said. "It's an exchange of ideas and cultures with the hopes that they take this information back and put it to use in their country." The group is only in Auburn for about three days. "It's a small way to get people to understand each others cultures better,” Radakovitz said. "There's so much to be done, but Rotary does what we can." The group leader, R. Jayasankar, said he’s been a member of Rotary for 27 years. He said these trips are important for relationship and confidence building. “They observe the way their own professions are practiced in this country,” Jayasankar said. “It gives them a new type of confidence and builds international understanding.”