Saturday, March 20, 2010

A week of Rotary visits!

Last week was full of fun Rotary excursions. I presented at three different clubs: Rotary Club of Leith, Rotary Club of Dunbar (my own host club) and the Rotary Club of North Berwick. I really enjoyed each of the presentations and the goodwill shown by all the club members. Rotarians really know how to make a guest feel special. At each meeting, I was wined, dined, and given 100% attention during my speeches.

Mostly, I talk about my life, my accomplishments, how I got to where I am now, and how art has led my path in community service. I talk a good deal about my experience teaching art in inner-city Los Angeles with AmeriCorps, and the trials and tribulations that went with that experience. It's amazing, I still find myself choking up when I talk about certain families that I worked with and the impact that they had on my life.

Americorps (and other short-term voluntary service) is funny like that. You sign up for a program thinking that you'll be making a great difference in people's lives, but at the end of the day, what you can possibly contribute in a year feels far less than the personal triumphs and gains that you take away from it. But, I guess you have to start somewhere.

In terms of feedback, most of the questions I get relate to Scotland - "do you like the food?" "What are you disappointed with?" "What is the biggest difference between here and home?" Some of the questions relate to my artwork - "How are you going to get those giant paintings home?" (that's a really good question. I usually mention that they are indeed for sale!)

Since Dunbar and North Berwick are just next door to each other, I spent Tuesday with past District Governor Iain Marshall, a longtime member of the N Berwick club. He gave me a lovely tour of the coastal area, and we had a great lunch at a place that I forget the name of, but it is right by this church named Dirleton:

North Berwick is really lovely and sweeping and peaceful. It's considered one of the most desireable places to live in Scotland and I can understand why. Iain took me on a walk to the beach, which spreads out for miles. He is particularly fond of the ocean views as he is an avid sailor. Before Iain's wife Grace passed away, this was her favorite afternoon walk. I felt pretty honored that Iain shared the special place with me.

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