• Club Number 18039
  • District 9685
  • Chartered 1946


Martin Aston Gong Ride

A huge “THANK YOU” to all the Rotarians who sponsored me to do the MS Gong Ride. The total I sent in to MS Events was $1175, which will surely help to either provide care for sufferers, or enable a bit more research to find a cure.

AND to those who cast nasturtiums on my claims to have actually reached The Gong, here is a picture of me at the finish line, and another with my team-mates Patrick and Michael, after the ride. I think we look pretty chipper for a couple of Seniors. (Michael is not yet 40)


‘Til next year!
Martin A

Letter from Germany - Exchange Student Heidi Sham

Hello everybody back home in Ryde Rotary. I hope you are all well and not too cold from the Sydney winter weather! It is starting to really hit summer over here, and the past couple of days has seen everybody wearing flip-flops, T-shirts and shorts to school, work and at home. Everybody asks me if the weather reminds me of home (which it does), but also makes me realise that many German people have a paradise view of Australia as always sunny, cloudless and beautiful, which is flattering to say the least, but also a little bit unrealistic. Five months have already whizzed past me now, and my exchange is almost half-complete. That double-sided feeling felt by many exchange students in the last months has already settled in feeling completely at home here now, and yet feeling that I still don’t understand many things that happen around me! 

This month has been a bit sad, because all the other exchange students that came from the Northern Hemisphere have to go home already – many of which are my very good friends, and whom have given me advice and support about living as an exchange student in fair Deutschland. At the beginning of the month, we had a District 1900 Conference in Essen, attended by the important Rotarians in our region – as exchange students, we had to make a short presentation there, so the opportunity was converted into an exchange student weekend, with both Inbounds and outbounds. Essen is about 2.5 hours train trip from where I live, and is in the Ruhrgebiet, or the ‘industrial’ area of the Germany – but it is very green and beautiful there. It was wonderful to see the exchange students from Eurotour, and to meet some of the German Outbounds, especially two lovely girls going off to Australia!
During this weekend, we practised for our short presentation and did mini-tours in various workstations in Essen. I chose the ceramic tour, and it was fascinating to see how pieces of clay are transformed through extremely high temperature, wonderful skill and unbelievable imagination into works of art. We were given gifts at the end of the tour – beautiful tea cups worth 20 Euros each! At the presentation, all the exchange students brought along their blazers, and it was really an amazing sight; some of the blazers were filled to the brim with pins, patches, badges, key-rings and souvenirs from literally all over the world! After the presentation, we went back to the school hall and got into country groups based upon our homeland/exchange destination. It felt wonderful to answer questions about Australia, and what to expect from school, Rotary, home and friends – I feel that I am now much more aware of culture differences than when I first arrived, and had so much fun getting these girls excited about wonderful Australia. The last day of our weekend was extremely sad, because I realised that I would probably never see some of these warm-hearted, passionate and vivacious people again in my life. I am genuinely glad that I came to a district where I have an opportunity to make international friends and learn about not only the German culture, but also the beauty of cultures from all around the world!
Another highlight of this month is my trip to Hameln with my host mother and older host sister. Maybe that name rings a bell in your memory. Yes, this is the same city as in the story of the Pied Piper who drove the rats out of the city – the Rattenfaenger. Hameln is about a half-hour drive from where I live, and we went there on a sunny weekend to look at the city, which has many old German houses, and also has a wonderful bakery! Normally the theatre acting out the story of the Pied Piper doesn’t play on Saturdays, but there was suddenly a private show, so luckily got to see a little bit of Hameln history. We also happened upon a weekend fresh food market – in Germany right now, it is the season for two things, and two things only. Asparagus and strawberries. There’s nothing else fresher during this time – and this market was full of them! Besides from that were other fresh produce, cakes from bakeries, flowers, honey and homemade jams, meats and other wonderful things! I had so much fun looking around and looking at young and old, female and male all enjoying themselves on this sunny German day.
This month, my second host sister Annina came back from a year in Thailand! She is 16 years old, and now speaks fluent Thai – how amazing is that? I must confess that I was a bit nervous about meeting her, because she is an amazing achiever – she has achieved so much in the sometimes harsh conditions of Thailand, and she was named the Exchange Student of the Year in her district in Thailand! But I really had nothing to worry about – after a 4 hour long drive to Frankfurt Airport, I finally met Annina, a smiling, happy and friendly girl, who was eager to meet me. I really admire her for travelling to Thailand, while the overwhelming majority of Germans want to travel to the USA, Canada and Australia to improve their English – and I think she was well rewarded with the starkly unique experiences that she gained from her year overseas!
Our school has also recently been conducting Project Days, where all the students apply for different projects or short courses e.g. Hip-Hop Dancing, Digital Photography, Canoeing and Creative Writing. Amazing, I was placed in the ‘Garden Work for the School’ group – easily the most non-exciting project of them all, and I was the only senior in the group. But, I have to say, I was nicely surprised, I actually had a lot of fun weeding out the school grounds and meeting some of the younger kids in the school!
The summer holidays are coming up very very soon, in a week, so my host family and I will be travelling to Denmark for 2 weeks and I am so excited. I hope to tell you all about it in my next report! Also, when I write next, I will be 18 years old and although that makes me miss home, I think it’s a very special thing to turn 18 overseas, surrounded by my friends that I have only known for some months, but with whom it feels like I have shared a lifetime. So, until the end of July, all the best and warm (literally ) greetings from Germany!  Heidi

PR Directors Report 2008-2009 – Stefan Sojka

It has been an exciting year for our club, with many activities occurring in all avenues of service and within the club itself. My first year as PR director has been a challenging and exciting one, with much learning taking place, getting runs on the board and slowly but surely building a PR case for the club that I am very proud to say I can pick up and run with into next year, as I retain my current position.
I have to say I have been supported strongly by some members of the club, almost to the point of them taking over my role! My weekly Hub report was on many occasions submitted before I put finger to keyboard. Rtn. Adrian Hallett is a one-man publicity machine, carting behind him - as he does to every event - a trailer packed with signage and paraphernalia promoting the club. This was particularly helpful as many weekends I am called to duty in my business. Thank you Adrian for all your support! I have had some discussions with him, and we have some big plans for that trailer and all it contains.
On the media front, I have begun learning the ropes. We have had one or two nice articles in the paper, and I have placed the obligatory accompanying advert on one occasion to ensure a nice placement. The Hub is a central tool in the PR arsenal, and my weekly reports have hopefully provided mirth and merriment, as well as informative insights into the caliber of our guests and the high quality of our regular meetings. The district’s “Humanity in Motion” magazine is a splendid publication, in which I was proud to have contributed a wonderful two-page spread that is now popping up all over our community.
Since I took on the role of PR director, I have been maintaining an interim Website, in preparation for the imminent launch of our brand new Website. The interim site has been a source of information for anyone searching for the club, and we have had numerous members of the public approach us directly as a result of finding us in Google. The new site is a big undertaking, and I am very much looking forward to completing it. It is fully branded to Rotary International style guidelines, and is designed to grow with every activity that we undertake. It also has a newsletter mailing list facility for both members and the general public, so that we can send out two different e-news publications. The Website is taking a while to produce, because it is a huge project – and I do need some help – but it will be launching within the next month or so – ready for the new board to marvel over… and take credit for!
Recently, I participated in MUNA as video and audio producer. The audio version of the entire event is complete and is of huge benefit to all participants, past, present and future. The promotional video will highlight just how much fun and how rewarding the event is. It will be a good vehicle to promote MUNA and our club, setting a good standard for future publicity. I have already set up a YouTube site for Ryde Rotary, in readiness for the video’s completion.
Thank you to everyone who has mentored and supported me all year. I am looking forward very much to the year ahead, as I consolidate a lot of the ground work I have laid down these past 12 months.

Letter from Switzerland - Exchange Student Andrea Muller

My dearest Aussies
It’s a long time since I let you know last that I’m still alive. Well, I am alive, and life has been pretty good. Now I have definitely arrived back home in Switzerland, physically and with my thoughts as well. My brain thinks in German, like it did the first 16 years of my life and I have the feeling, my English already became a bit worse.
School started three weeks ago and since then it kept me busy. Today I had my first Physics test, which isn’t my favourite subject, and it went so/so. Over all it isn’t too hard to follow the lessons. Though I already had some sessions after school, when some friends explained to me everything I did not understand. And it helped. I just would like to take school seriously from now on. I always had my homework done even before the date it was due, hehe, I am a bit proud of myself. Luckily I don’t have to attend all the English lessons, so I get to sleep in on Tuesday mornings. So nice!
My new class is great. I found friends really fast and we all get on with each other really well; it’s a pleasure to sit in class together. May be the fact, that we are 11 girls and only 3 boys, makes it special. From the 21st to the 26th of September we’ll be on school camp in Tuscany (It) and we will visit Pisa and Florence. I’m so excited.  Because since I’m back, I feel a bit restless and I want to travel all the time. It doesn’t matter to where I’m travelling; I just want to go somewhere.
This Saturday I’ll have my first concert with my orchestra, after just four rehearsals! I’m the only French horn now, so I have to play ‘forte’ all the time. But I’m used to all the jealous trumpet players who have to make silly comments, hehe, they wish their instrument would sound as nice as mine does! Yesterday we had our first rehearsal with the flute ensemble, which I founded two years ago with two friends. We have lots of fun to just play together and we also play at competitions.
On Wednesdays I coach a girls soccer team. It makes fun; we already had three games and got four points out of them. My dad gave me an early birthday present and bought me a special folder for soccer coaches. It has a magnetic field on the inside, on which I can show our strategy to the team and so on. It’s really cool! Of course, I still play soccer myself; it keeps the balance.
One of my big projects for the next few months is to organise the stay of the Barker College chamber orchestra and choir here in my town. My mum and I are organising host families for the few days they will spend in Switzerland, here in Lucerne. It’s quiet a bit of work, though I so excited about it, I don’t care! My school is helping as well to organise a concert or two, so it will be fantastic.
My family is well. Three weeks after his hip operation, my dad is walking again, slowly, but his progress is good. Manuel, my older brother is still in the army, becoming an army nurse (?). And the little ones are just being annoying… as usual. No, just joking, they are working and going to school, as usual. Mum is working hard, as usual. So everything is normal!
Lots of love, I miss you all!!!

Letter from Switzerland - Exchange Student Andrea Muller

My dear Aussies, Exchange Students and other friends

It’s been a month since I arrived back home in Switzerland. And it has been a busy month. Lots of Welcome parties, meeting friends and relatives, going out, playing soccer and earning money.

Over all it took me about a week, may be even less, to get used to Switzerland. I never expected that it would be that easy. Not much changed, and I kept myself busy.
By now I have been working for 3 weeks.  I have a job in a Restaurant as waitress. It is soo stressful, I just crashed into my bed in the evenings and I had to set two alarm clocks in the morning to wake myself up. But at the same time I also wanted to have a life. So I gave up some hours of sleep to have time to cook dinner with my friends, to go to the Blue Balls Festival in Lucerne at night or to watch Movies with my brothers. I found out, it’s not very healthy to sleep less than 6 hours a few days in a row…

Last week I took a break from work and went to soccer camp with my Soccer club. For the first time I was a coach and had to teach the 7-8 years old boys how to pass a ball properly. It was sooo much fun! I was the only female coach on camp, how lucky! ;P
Being coach was so good, that I agreed to become coach for a girls team for the next year. Now I’m hoping to be able to attend some classes so I’ll know what to do…
That means I’ll be even busier in the future.
I dropped the idea of joining the local orchestra, too much hobbies. Though I still play in my youth wind band, we’ll start rehearsing in two weeks and I still haven’t got a French horn!

I went to ‘the city’ Lucerne a few times in the past few weeks… it is amazing how small and cute it is! It seems to be a little suburb. Yesterday I drove through Berne, the capitol of Switzerland, and on the highway it said ‘21km to Berne’. Guess what! We were still driving past plains with little farms and cows (with bells) on it! How funny! In Sydney one would be in the middle of suburbs!

Lots of people always ask how it was, my year overseas! And each time I feel so bad when I say ‘it was great, awesome, amazing and just unbelievable’. Because how would they know how it really was? How should I put one year in one sentence? Then I just say ‘If I could, I would go again right now’!

Last Friday I also got my English results back. I passed with the grade B and I’m very happy about it! So all the studying was worth it. YAY

So yeah, all together I would say I’m very well. Live goes on, there is always something happening and soon when school starts it’ll be even worse. I thing of you all a lot, there is no day passing without it and I miss each one of you! Take care, I hope to hear from you sometime!

Love and hugs


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