Tilak with District Governor Rtn. Leslie J. Mitkos of District 6490 (2014-15)
My name is Tilak, a Rotarian from district 3292 Nepal - Bhutan. I’m the Secretary for “Rotary Club of Kathmandu North East” for the year 2015 -16.
I joined the rotary club in 2012 and soon became an ITHF member (International Travel Hosting Fellowship). By classification I’m a tourism entrepreneur in Nepal; offer Cultural Tour Packages, Adventure Trekking Tours and any Tailor Made Holiday Packages in Nepal.
In the course of my tourism business promotion, I have traveled to Europe and Asia extensively, and already visited 3 times to United States; but had never got an opportunity to manage my time for a Rotary Fellowship Visit through ITHF.
This year I made a plan to travel the USA as a Rotary Fellowship Visit. I contacted to ITHF members by email. With my big surprised many of them replied me overwhelmingly with Welcoming emails for visiting them. They wanted to host me during my visit! What a great deal!
I begun my travel from Philadelphia as I also had a schedule of participating a 2-day Adventure Travel Show for Nepal Tourism Promotion (May 21 - 22) there. When I landed Philadelphia on March 19 in the morning, I went to Whippany, New Jersey to join the Multi District President Elect Training Seminar (PETS), where I was invited by Rtn. Nick Constantino, DG for 2015-16 (District 7210). Then started up my fellowship visit from Buffalo, NY, after my few days visit with Nepalese family in New York city.
Before I reach to Buffalo, I booked a 2-day bus trip to Niagara Falls, which was absolutely an impressive visit!
The following day on March 25 in the evening, my host Rtn. Bob Artis came to my hotel to pick me up. It’s about a 30-minute drive to reach his home. Before we get home, Bob took me to a nice restaurant; cheered with a glass of wine to celebrate our first visit. As we reached home, Bob introduced his wife Corinne. She handed over me a welcome card in an envelope. The couple treated me in well manner as if I was there as a “God Gifted Guest’. This was my first Rotary Fellowship impression I have ever had before, other than my good experiences with my non-Rotarian friends in Europe.
Bob showed me all tourists attractions of Buffalo and he took me to many Rotary Clubs in their weekly meetings. Visiting international Rotary Clubs were also my first experience. Some Fellow Rotarians asked me “Tilak What you bring here?” I replied “I would like to visit as many Rotary Clubs as possible, get some Rotary ideas; and bring back home to Nepal and share with my friends; and implement the ideas in my club”. In fact the main purpose of my visit was to meet the Fellow Rotarians; gain some Rotary ideas; and find some international partners who are interested for humanitarian service projects in Nepal.
After a 4-day wonderful fellowship visit, I went back to New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and stayed with non-Rotarian Nepalese family. During my staying in Philadelphia, I also got an opportunity to meet Rtn. Marilyn Axler (RGHF Membership Chair) who hosted me a dinner.
On April 08, I went to Washington DC for another fellowship visit till April 13, where I was invited by Rtn. Bala Murphy, a very nice guy, supportive, friendly, Indian origin. Bala gave me some guidelines and highlighted of must visiting places in Washington DC. During my stay, I visited many museums including Holocaust Museum, Air Space Museum, American Natural History Museum and as well as enjoyed the Cherry Blossom Road Festival in Washington DC. Bala also took me on his family gathering; it was very nice. Now I am remembering the family; specially the retired Professor Kamal Verma, PHD; my greetings to him and the entire family!
Before I join to another fellowship visit to Chicago, Bala dropped me to Derwood, Maryland (1 hour drive), where I was invited by Rtn. Ken & Beatrice Weiss. It was a 2-day short; but memorable visit. I’m remembering this couple; always in my heart! Ken took me some clubs’ meeting including the Rotary Club “Gaithersburg”. I’m remembering the President Linda; and another fellow Rtn. John Cabrera, Dr. Thomas and Dr. Mitra.
On 15 April 15, I flew to Chicago early morning and landed at O’Hare Airport, where my host Rtn. Bob Smallwood was waiting for me. Bob had made a prearrangement of a tour to visit the Rotary Headquarter in 1560 Sherman Avenue. Rtn. John M. Hannes, the senior Coordinator gave me about a 45 minute tour which was one of the highlights of my visit.
During my staying with hosts Bob and Nancy; they took me several clubs including number 1 Rotary Club (Chicago Rotary One). It was so impressive for me and felt honored and privileged to join the first club among the 34,000 clubs in the world. Besides visiting the clubs, Bob took me to the Willis Tower, joined the Architectural Cruise tour and many more. In overall it was my worth visiting to Chicago!
Another highlight of the trip was to Bloomington - Normal, a 2-hour train ride from Chicago. I was invited by hosts Rtn. Ray and Carol Ropp (Rtn. Ray was the Past District Governor of District 6490).
When I reached their door step; I found the Nepalese flag with American National flag, which were fluttering in a pillar just in front of their house. This was just done in my honor! What a great way to welcoming a guest at their home!
The Ropp family is well known farmer on dairy business who represents the 6th generation farmers (www.roppcheese.com). Carol and Ray took me some Rotary Clubs including Normal Rotary Club, the only one normal club in the world. We also joined a 2-day District Conference of District 6490. I also got an opportunity to join a dinner party as a guest which was specially organized to honor Past District Governors of District 6490. I’m now remembering the D.G. Rtn. Leslie J. Mitkos, the guy having a humorous personality, Rtn. Surinder Sethi (DG for 2015-16) and his spouse Narinder.
The last but not least, I visited Springfield, the beautiful hometown of Abraham Lincoln. I was invited there by Rtn. Dr. Eli Goodman, Rtn. Harry Mitchell and his spouse Ginny. As usual practice, I joined many clubs there; and presented our District 3292 and our club humanitarian service activities and some tourism highlights of Nepal. Eli and Harry gave me a tour to many places including Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Lincoln Tomb, New Salem and many more. I’m now remembering all fellow Rotarians at Springfield, the host family including Rtn. Neal E. Miller, Bonnie W. Styles, PHD, the Museum Director of Illinois State Museum, who offered me an hour guided tour to the museum, Rtn. PDG Rod Buffington, a very big supporter of The Rotary Foundation (TRF), who invited me to join a luncheon at his home. The other Rotarian who hosted me a dinner at their lovely home is Rtn. Bruce Finne and his wife Karen.
I’m thankful to all fellow Rotarians and the host families for their kind hospitality. It has been my lifetime unforgettable Rotary Fellowship Experience! America has become a home away from my home country Nepal. My hosts families have become my second family. I met so many wonderful and inspiring people. They are so courteous, polite and always helpful. They deserve the better than the best!
Meanwhile, I would like to state that there were other many places in my travel list that I were suppose to visit through Rotary Fellowship. Unfortunately, I had to shorten my trip due to the Earthquake devastation in Nepal on April 25. Fortunately, my family is safe. On May 07 I hurriedly returned to Nepal to meet my family and support the needy people who were desperately affected by the devastation.
Rtn. Tilak Thapa Magar (MPHF)
Secretary for 2015 -16 (Rotary Club of Kathmandu North East)
Founder & Managing Director (Nepal Trailblazer Trekking)Facebook: www.facebook.com/tilak.thapa.magar
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