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'Peace forum’ features Algerian exchange group

peace_forumThe Altus Sunset Rotary Club sponsored and Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus hosted a peace forum Wednesday featuring a panel of special guests from Algeria, who are visiting the United States as part of a Rotary International exchange program.

 

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The Altus Sunset Rotary Club sponsored and Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus hosted a peace forum Wednesday featuring a panel of special guests from Algeria, who are visiting the United States as part of a Rotary International exchange program.

The forum, “Peace Through Understanding,” was held in the campus’ Student Services Conference Center with more than 100 in attendance, all of whom were taught about the guests’ home country and its culture.

The group, which is part of Rotary’s Group Study Exchange (GSE) program, has been in the United States since Sept. 15. For three to four weeks, GSE 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.

Team leader Abdelkader Boutaleb, a retired computer engineer, said the best way to promote peace and understanding is to “meet people and know each other.”

GSE groups are made up of one Rotarian, who acts as the team leader, and four non-Rotarian team members. Other Algerian team members included Adel Rahmani, an internal auditor; Ferial Sarah Brahimi, a lawyer; Leila Guerrak Senane, an internal auditor; and Sadek Sidani, a financial accountant.

A.C. Moncrief of Altus, former governor of Rotary District 6110, which consists of Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas, said he was delighted to see the group interacting with members of Rotaract, the Rotary sponsored student organization at Arkansas Tech-Ozark.

“That’s what this is all about,” he said. “This will make a lasting impression on all of them for the rest of their lives.”

As part of the exchange program, next year one member of Rotary District 6110 and four non-Rotarians from the district will travel to Africa to learn about the many cultures of the host Rotary clubs in District 9010, as well as teach them about America.

Before the forum, the group was treated to lunch and given a tour of Arkansas Tech-Ozark, where they learned about its many programs and the career paths its students choose.

Chancellor Jo Alice Blondin said, “Rotary Group Study Exchange is a tremendous opportunity for our students and our community to learn about other cultures, and this type of learning serves the mission of our institution well.

“The students realized today that they have so much more in common with their peers in Algeria than they realized.”

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