Rotary connections aid teens' visit to Germany
A pair of juniors from Buffalo Grove High School commanded the room last week at the Rotary Club of Arlington Heights lunch meeting.
Lauryn Lintner and Christina Ruterschmidt, both of Arlington Heights, captivated their audience with descriptions of their summer exchange trip taken with Buffalo Grove's German Club to Neu-Ulm, located in the Bavarian region of southern Germany.
"We fully immersed ourselves in the German culture," Ruterschmidt said, "experiencing what German teens do both at home and at school."
But there was more going on than showing slides. For Lintner, the trip to Germany -- including a two-week follow up trip to Altena in the country's north Rhine region -- extended her family's commitment to Rotary and its youth exchange program, designed to help students become global citizens.
Lintner spent the latter part of her trip with Tina Niclaus. Their connection dates back some 30 years, when Niclaus spent a year as a Rotary exchange student living in Arlington Heights with Lintner's grandparents, Mike and Masha Silverman.
"I was able to extend my trip because of my Rotary connection," Lintner said.
Among the nearly 80 club members in attendance was Mike Silverman himself, who beamed with pride as his granddaughter described her impressions of Germany. But club members pulled out a surprise when they honored Silverman himself, making him an honorary club member for life.
"What a tremendous legacy, that a former exchange student that Mike hosted years ago now is hosting one of our own young people," said Jim Thomson, club president. "The Rotary connection still remains strong."
In fact, Silverman and his wife hosted more than one dozen Rotary students over the years, and three of their four children lived overseas through the exchange program, including staying in Sweden and Brazil.
Now, his granddaughter is advancing that connection through her own travels and willingness to bring back what she learned to interested Rotary Club members.
"Of all the things that Rotary is involved with, the exchange program is my favorite," said Silverman, former chairman of First Northwest Bank in Arlington Heights.
"It's such a great thing, because kids go and find out that everyone around the world is the same."
Club members recognized Silverman and his more than 45 years of service to the club with a standing ovation.
"Because of all of your direction and guidance, this club has flourished," Thomson said. "We're making you an honorary member of this club because of your long-term support -- not only of this club, but of Rotary International."