A slow day at work recently led Melanie Giovino to an article in The Augusta Chronicle calling for applicants for a Rotary Club exchange program to India.
After clipping the piece out and showing it to several co-workers and her husband, all of whom were enthusiastic about the program but couldn't participate, Giovino set it aside. Then, just a day or two before the application deadline, the Grovetown resident decided to apply herself.
Though Giovino had never been out of the country, she readied herself to take the month-long trip once she learned she was accepted.
"I expect my life to change and to take a different turn," said Giovino, an environmental specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources. "We've become settled into a very peaceful, calm routine, and I think that's going to change. I definitely think this will be a life-changing experience."
The opportunity to be a part of the five-person team to Karnataka, India, is something Giovino is nervously anticipating.
"When I think of India, I think of Slum Dog Millionaire ," said Giovino. "But I've done some research on the area we're going to and it really isn't like that.
"What I'm really concerned about at this point is the food and what it's going to do to my digestive system. I've never had Indian food. I'm purely vegetarian and expect to eat a lot of rice."
Giovino will participate in the exchange through Rotary District 6920. The purpose of Rotary International's Group Study Exchange is to promote international understanding and goodwill.
Her team will attend the district conference of District 3810 in Mangalore and experience the country's culture. In addition, they will observe how their vocations are practiced abroad.
For Giovino, that means having the opportunity to meet a professional counterpart in India.
"Her explanation of her job and dealings with clean and contaminated water will be an asset," said Rotary District 6920 Assistant Governor Pam Lightsey, adding that clean water in foreign countries is a major focus of the district. "She has a dynamic personality."
Giovino is scheduled to leave the country today and arrive in India in two days. She will return to the United States on Jan. 30.
"I'm excited and nervous," said Giovino. "But I know I'll have a great time."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.