From The Volunteer State to The UK

District 6760 of the Rotary Club selected a team of four young professionals from Tennessee, accompanied by a team leader, to go on an international vocational exchange to Rotary Club District 1270 in England. The team will explore professions related to their own while gaining a broader understanding of British culture, history, and society. Follow the team as they prepare for, travel to, and adventure in England.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I Can't believe this trip is already halfway finished and I can't believe this trip is only halfway finished! I hit the proverbial wall yesterday. Just exhausted. Everyone is amazing, we are very fortunate. However, every town wants to show us so much, feed us the best food and entertain us most nights. Btw, the UK is going to run out of meat and potatoes very very soon. Today, Sunday, is moving day. We are off to Hull for our fifth stop in 16 days. We have done four presentations with back-to-back shows Mon/Tues night. I believe we have met over 200 people thus far. The characters, holy cow the characters. We have met some great people. Chris and stayed at the same house at our last stop. Very very interesting. They were pack rats and this house was old old old. They had a friend of theirs over one night for dinner, an 83 yr old retired doctor that could drink me under the table. Believe me, I tried. The only thing missing from this dinner scene was Christopher Walken. Seriously, words aren't enough to describe the conversations and setting of this scene. I can only imagine Chris and I will laugh about it for many years to come.
This is truly an amazing experience though. I don't want to travel abroad any other way from this point forward. Having an interested group of local, passionate people show you their town is the way to experience the most. Looking forward to our next, packed town!

Archers Ready!!

Robin Hood, Braveheart, Jason Denenberg. Apparently all three can hunt to provide for a small village with a bow and arrow. We went to Nottingham Forrest on Friday. There were some really, really old trees...and that was it. Aside from the archery set up near the main tree attraction of course. Our group (12) split up into two teams and shot at our respective targets. We were playing for pride of course. The two guys that ran this were hilarious. I carried my team to victory with 45 out of 81 points...thank you Bill Long. It was a blast.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Wednesday was Ping factory day. Being the exceptional golfer that I am, I couldn't wait. Who knew there was a Ping golf facility/factory in Gainsboro, England (pop roughly 30k). Honestly, I was let down. I had envisioned this grand process with amazing technology everywhere and pro golfers with machines out of a Terminator movie studying there every move. Nope. Guy takes a shaft, puts glue on it then attaches the head while another clears any access glue. Repeat. The entire process was very rudimentary. Great people though. I was amazed at the speed at which they processed orders for shipment. The goal is for a golfer to order custom clubs at their respective course on a Friday and play with them the following weekend. At least we were able to go to the driving range...

Good 'ole U.S of A

Friday night was fish and chips night with trivia at the local pub (Gainsboro). Not any trivia though, US themed trivia on account of our team. Host families, the team and other Rotarians all met there and had a great time, about 35 in total. The pub was packed. One of the questions: "How many letters are in the National Anthem?" After some quick guessing, my team (which contained Ana) asked if Ana and I knew the words. I promptly replied that not only did we know the words, but Ana sings and performs in front of thousands at baseball stadiums back home. Morris (another teammate and Rotarian) shouted "really?". I said yes (as Ana was saying "NO") and that he should tell Bob (quiz master) to ask her to sing. He did, she was great, and everyone cheered. I don't think I know who actually won, but everyone had a great time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Miller Time!?

MGD ya'll. The first beer offered to me in England by my host family? Miller Genuine Draft. I flew 4500 miles to have the Champaign of Beer. All is well though. The entire group met at Royal Oak Inn this afternoon, a true English pub that has been around since the 1700's. Here I was able to sample a traditional English beer, Black Sheep. This beer is pumped out of the keg and is "alive". The yeast has not been killed off prior to being added. Wonderful taste. Black Sheep Brewery was born out of defiance, as you can imagine. A successful family had owned and operated a brewery for decades when they decided it was time to sell. All but one brother voted for the sale. So, upon the sale of his family brewery, he set up shop directly across the street and has been doing well since. I didn't get the year of these events however.

My host family has been great. Goeff and his wife Chris are both from Gimsby. Goeff went the long way to Royal Oak Inn and gave me a history lesson I won't forget. He showed me the old air field famous for housing the bombers that destroyed the damns in Germany during WWII. The food has been surprisingly good. Chris made her famous fish pie for my first dinner (think a mix between chicken-pot-pie and shepherds pie). We ended today by watching the Manchester United vs. Chelsea football match for the Premier League title. Fitting I thought.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Technological Introductions

Technology amazes me. Today I received an introductory email from one of my host families. I also received a facebook posting with some information about one of my vocational days. Technology has allowed easy correspondence before my arrival. I am so looking forward to my trip!

I read Chris’s post and appreciated his introduction. I am still playing with the layout of this blog a little and wanted to post mini-bios about the team somewhere easily accessible on the main page. As a temporary fix, I can say a little about myself here. I am a park ranger at Stones River National Battlefield, a site of a significant American Civil War battle. My job is versatile: I give tours and talks, work with educational groups, and tell our visitors about the history of the site. I also work with our ecologists at the park, maintaining the ecosystems by removing invasive, exotic plants. I am finishing my Masters degree at Middle Tennessee State University in Public History. I study cultural landscapes, places where humans and their environments meet. I am interested to see how humans impact their surrounds and how humans’ surroundings have impacted history. I particularly enjoy studying cultural landscapes at battlefields of different sorts. I have lived in Tennessee for three and a half years, the longest I have ever lived in one spot in my life. My dad serves in the military, so I grew up an “Army Brat,” traveling with my family all over the United States and even parts of the world. I am blessed with a job that I love, living in a place that I enjoy.

I guess that about sums up my life. My schooling consumes most of my “free” time right now. I will post this and then start working on my thesis writing! I cannot wait to visit England.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preparations for our Group Study Exchange

My name is Chris Farrell. I will be a member of the team heading to Northern England in May. First,I must admit I have never blogged before. In fact, I don't know if I have ever actually read a blog. I would consider myself reluctant to embrace new technology and I believe that I was perhaps one of the last humans to get a cell phone, although I can't prove that and might be a slight exaggeration. I am a violist with the Nashville Symphony. For those of you who don't know what a violist is, the viola is a slightly larger version of the violin and therefore a player of the viola is called a violist. I don't really know why it's pronounced "vee-o-la," but it is. In addition to the full time work with the symphony, I am a member of a chamber ensemble called Alias and play recording sessions that span pretty much all musical genres from country to jazz and classical. The symphony has been quite busy. Lately we've performed Tchaikovsky 2nd Symphony with Leonard Slatkin and Prokofiev 5th Symphony with our Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero. The last month has been an eclectic mix for me also, as I've also performed Debussy String Quartet with the Eclectic Chamber Players and played recording sessions including one for a duet with Lionel Ritchie and Shania Twain. In preparation for the trip, I have been writing some music to perform and practicing solo works to play whenever I can. I'm currently trying to bridge the classical/country divide by making the Willie Nelson song "Crazy" a viola solo. Listening to Patsy Cline's great version has given me some ideas, however it's a challenge to shrink the melody and piano and guitar all onto one instrument. Also this is the dreaded tax season. My wife is a CPA, so our 5 year old daughter and I have not seen my wife very much lately. This too shall pass, but on April 18th this year. Those of you putting off your returns get a few extra days! I am very excited about our trip and will continue to post more about our preparations and all our adventures while we're in England.