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Exchanging business concepts

German visitors learn how their jobs are done in U.S.

German visitors learn how their jobs are done in U.S.

May 30, 2007|by JULIA COPLEY

Rotary District 7350 brought four professionals from Germany to the United States so they could learn from Americans doing the same jobs.

Yvonne French, who works in accounting, was surprised to learn that accounting in America is much more restricted than at home.

"It's only bookkeeping here," she said.

Rotary District 7350, which spans Western Maryland, central Pennsylvania and eastern West Virginia, hosted a group study exchange. Five of the Rotary clubs in the district are in Washington County. The exchange group stopped in Washington County May 22, at the end of its month-long visit.

The Rotary exchange invites non-Rotary members to tour a different country and see how professions differ or are similar. This year, District 7350 exchanged with German Rotary District 1850, which covers Lower Saxonia and Bremen in northwestern Germany.

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French, 29, works in accounting for a company that produces waste containers. She handles day-to-day business in the office, as well as preparing monthly and annual closing statements.

Meike Krause, 28, works as a jeweler and goldsmith in Germany. She said American jewelers plan out the jewelry much more extensively than she does, and the styles tend to be more traditional. She's able to be "more creative in Germany," she said, and because she has more freedom in creation, she can lend her own style to the pieces with which she works.

Hilko Dunkhorst, 31, wasn't able to watch his American professional counterparts at work.

"I learned nothing - it isn't done here," he said. His profession, which involves calculating the logistics of moving oil derricks and other shipping businesses, has no counterpart in inland Maryland.

Stephan Domschke, 40, visited the U.S. before but said this was his most enjoyable trip. He works in an export sales department, and found his American counterparts enthusiastic about explaining their jobs. Having explained his own job to outsiders, he could appreciate the effort they put in.

"They tried to explain the whole thing," he said, and make it as clear as possible.

Traditionally, each group visits various landmarks around their host district's area, in addition to visiting their professional counterparts. The visiting Germans toured Antietam National Battlefield, Prime Outlets at Hagerstown and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts before having lunch in downtown Hagerstown, according to their local host.

The GSE program has been held annually for more than 40 years, and an estimated 80,000 people have become "ambassadors of good will" through the international Rotary Club program, said Ronald Keyser, exchange program chair.

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