Our club welcomes the GSE Team from Peru.

El Dorado Hills Rotarians Coy Baugh and Laurie Edwards wined, dined and mined five guests from Peru this week, taking them on a tour of El Dorado County and introducing them to local characters.

Margot Escobeda, an orthodontist who owns and manages a busy dental clinic in Lima; Susana Monzon, a nutritionist specializing in obesity who  was previously on the Peruvian National Team of Swimming; Susan Herrera, a human resources worker; Moira Alvarado, a home care nurse;  and Maria de Lourdes Sheen, an environmental engineer specializing in air and noise quality, are members of the Group Study Exchange Team hosted by Rotary District 5180. They will spend a month in California (May 13-June 13) while a team of  from this area spend a month in Peru.

“The GSE program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers,” states the Rotary International website. “For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country’s culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.”

This past week Lourdes Sheen has been home hosted by El Dorado Hills Rotarians Bill and Sherie Tobin, while other team members were hosted by families in Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Fair Oaks.

Last Wednesday four of the “chicas” learned about El Dorado County’s culture. Escobeda, the team leader, did not go on our tour as she participated in a specialized vocational tour with UC Davis Medical Center.

Their first stop was Cameron Park Air Estates, a neighborhood with extra wide streets and short street signs to allow planes to taxi off the airstrip of Cameron Park Airport to the pilots’ oversized garages.

Denny Davis, a retired Sacramento firefighter and a retired administrative law judge for the state of California, had  South American music playing in his garage/hanger when the team arrived. He shared stories about the memorabilia he’s collected and allowed them to try on a World War II pilot’s flight helmet and sit in the cockpit of his 1967 Beechcraft Debonair plane. He also showed the team the 1927 Model T Ford he restored, and the frame off restoration for his 1956 Chevy Be Lair.

The team also met Davis’ 91-year-old mother Jessie Davis who said she was very excited to meet the Peruvian guests.

Denny described the team as great ambassadors for their country, adding, “I was very impressed by their enthusiasm and interest, and how affectionately and wonderfully they treated my mother. It made her very happy.”

In Placerville Judge James Wagoner provided a tour of the nearly 100-year-old Main Street Courthouse. He also shared a brief history of the local judiciary and showed members framed photos of all of the past and current judges displayed on the walls outside of the courtrooms. The team learned about the trial process and learned the roles of everyone in the courtroom.

Good eats were only a few steps away from the Courthouse. John Sanders, owner of Old Town Grill on Main Street, served up unique dining experience — buffalo burgers (a first for the team), fries, strawberry shakes and lemonade.

After lunch it was wine tasting at Boeger Winery. The team members said they particularly enjoyed sampling Barberathe winery’s most famous wine. Greg Boeger, finding an excuse to speak Spanish, guided a special tour of the operation, including a visit to the historical wine cellar, barrel room, bottling area and laboratory.

The team and tour guides made quick stop at the Wakamatsu Silk and Tea Colony in Gold Hill. Edwards, a docent for the property, explained the historical significance of the site.

The last stop was Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, where the guests were able to visit the spot where James Marshall discovered gold, see the replica of the original sawmill, and tour the historical museum. Lourdes Sheen sais she particularly liked this tour.

That night eight Rotary Clubs hosted a dinner for the Peruvain team in Folsom, where the ladies shared their backgrounds and their culture. They event included traditional Peruvian dance … with some uncoordinated but willing partners.