Four years ago, I responded to an advertisement in the pages (stay with me!) of this newspaper soliciting applications for a four-week, all-expenses-paid cultural exchange to South Korea sponsored by the Evanston-based charity Rotary International. I was already deeply enthralled with Korean food, and I saw this as an opportunity to explore the cuisine and culture firsthand.

Accepted to the program, I got far more than I expected, since our embarrassingly generous hosts had us feasting at all hours of the day on a range of Korean cuisine–traditional and nouveau, high end, low end, and everything in between. Some of my companions weren’t as thrilled with this relentlessness as I was, but I couldn’t have hoped for a more thorough and intense immersion into a cuisine I previously thought I knew something about. 

Stuffing yourself silly isn’t the point of these exchanges–they’re meant to foster a spirit of international goodwill and understanding. But what better way to do that than to share a table and raise a glass? One of the best things I ever did.

For this spring’s Group Study Exchange, Rotary District 6450 is sending a group to Norway, and it’s now accepting applications. If you are a non-Rotarian professional (with a supportive boss), between the ages of 25 and 40, residing or working in northeastern Illinois, you are a good candidate. 

For more info contact David Baker, or at 773-929-6739.