pioneer ridge

Naturalist Annette Whitrock shows a group of Indian Rotary members some of the different types of plants at the Pioneer Ridge Nature center Wednesday afternoon. Courier photo/Scott Niles

OTTUMWA — Developing personal and international relationships is a primary goal of the Rotary Club.

On April 27, a group of 11 rotary members from India traveled to Iowa to experience some of the American culture and way of life here in the Midwest.

The international exchange began in January when a group of Iowa Rotary members traveled to India.

In return, the men and women from Gujarat, India have been hosted by members of Iowa’s rotary clubs, including the club in Ottumwa.

A member of the Indian delegation, Vijay Chandak, said they have visited several cities on their trip thus far, including Newton, Davenport, Mount Pleasant, Fairfield and Ottumwa.

“We will be visiting the whole state,” he said.

Chandak said among the difference in cultures, food would be one of the primary examples.

“In India we eat a lot more spicy foods,” he said.

While they have been in Iowa, the group has been exposed to the daily routine many Iowans follow.

Several of the women in the group said they have been impressed by many of the facilities they visited.

Sunita Chandak and Sonal Patel said they were amazed by the hospitals and schools in Iowa.

“India does not have facilities like here,” Patel said.

Sunita Chandak said the education level and even the building structures themselves seemed to be more advanced. They said the education system in India is set up the same with elementary, middle and high school and then college, but the academic nature was more advanced here.

Overall, the group said they were thoroughly overwhelmed by the hospitality of Iowans.

“Everyone we have met has been so nice and welcoming,” said Sunita Chandak. “It has been very nice.”

Rotary Member Al Orsborn, who was in charge of the activities during the two days the group was in southern Iowa, said the visitors were most impressed with Iowans and their kindness.

“They came to see the culture, but most of that has to do with the people,” he said.

The group is scheduled to visit Des Moines before their departure on Friday.

Scott Niles can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or via e-mail at


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