President Jaclyn Adams presided over the meeting. Thanks to Ryan Kelly who gave the invocation and to Joe Meador who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thanks also to Samantha McCain and Allen Anderson who served as our greeters today. Tracie Flower noted that we have no visiting Rotarians.
Jaclyn informed us that Todd Watson has left the Rotary Club, Amber Chancellor will be back after a six month leave and Christy Gould is on a leave of absence for 6 months. Jaclyn then announced the additional board of directors for 2017-2018; Bill MacLauchlan, Elizabeth Gillentine, James Prout and James Mitchell.  James Mitchell will be the new President Elect and Wes Brooks is our ClubRunner coordinator. Maura McLaughlin will send an email to everyone about volunteering for Meals on Wheels for the January and February calendar.
Ryan Kelly then introduced today’s guest speaker and visiting Rotarian from Germany, Kai Ehrenberger.  Kai is here with his wife Magda Rocia visiting family in Hattiesburg and wanted to attend our luncheon meeting.  Magda is from Columbia and specializes in international contract law.  She is recognized in Germany as an international lawyer in the court of Erfurt.
There are 14 Rotary districts in Germany with 982 Rotary Clubs and 52,000 Rotarians.  Kai is the Rotary Club President in Sommerda, Thuringia, Germany.  His District 1950 just celebrated 15 years in September 2016.
Sömmerda is a town near Erfurt in Thuringia, Germanyon the Unstrut river. It is the capital of the district of Sömmerda.  Archeological digs in the area that is now Sömmerda, formerly Leubingen, have uncovered prominently buried human remains dating to around 2000 BC. The Free State of Thuringia is a federal state in central Germany. It is the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states.
Thuringia has been known as the "the green heart of Germany" from the late 19th century, due to the dense forest covering the land. Every year the Sömmerda Rotary Club holds a “duck festival”.  Each person that buys a ticket will receive a number.  Numbers are put on the bottom of yellow rubber ducks and are set to float down the river.  Some ducks will be pulled from the water and prizes issued to the lucky recipients with the number pulled.  Some of the proceeds are donated to various organizes in need.
Other projects that his District donates to include the orphans in Africa with AIDS and making sure children can have dental work performed by volunteering dentists. When asked about how Germany was handling the Syrian refugee problem, Kai informed us that they had to close the borders after reaching numbers well over two hundred thousand.  Germanys first act is to teach all immigrants and refugees to speak German.  They feel that without being able to speak German, they will not be able to seek employment and interact with the other people.
Kai says if you get a chance, you should visit Germany. Thuringian hospitality makes it so very tempting.  Some of the best Thuringian cuisine are the famous charcoal-grilled sausages and the legend-woven Thuringian dumplings served with many different types of roast meat.  And you can’t forget the tasty cheese, chocolate and traditionally strong beers.
If you would like to reach out to Kai or Magda, the contact number is +49 (0) 162-20 94 378