With 9,000 miles between them, two Quota clubs are redefining the long-distance relationship. Despite the oceans and mountains that separate them, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.A., and Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia, clubs have become fast friends.
The clubs first connected through Quota’s Friendship Club program, which was launched in 1998 to match two clubs together so their members could link with another community, share ideas, and make friends across the globe. Cedar Rapids and Hunter Valley Quotarians have done all three.
“We didn’t want our Friendship Club to be in name only; we wanted it to mean something,” past club president Marian Zierath says.
Mean something it did! Cedar Rapids Quotarians have learned not only about their Hunter Valley friends, but also the community in which they live. Their monthly club newsletter has done several different series to share Australian culture with members, including facts about food, history, climate, and government; profiles of Hunter Valley Quotarians; and examples and explanations of slang terminology. Ten uniquely Australian expressions would be woven into the newsletter each month and their definitions listed at the end. Soon, these expressions were being used in club meetings! Currently, the newsletter features a chronology contest, listing three important events in Australian history. The object of the game is to put the events in the order they occurred, and the winner receives a stuffed bear that says, “Volunteers Make a Difference.”
The chronology game was also featured at this year’s Friendship Club Dinner, an annual summer celebration for Cedar Rapids members. Together, they enjoy traditional Australian food they’ve prepared from recipes that club president Terri Petersen distributes (although Marian admits that some substitutions have to be made—ground kangaroo meat is difficult to find in Iowa!). Games are also part of the event and, last year, the club played Australia/Quota Jeopardy, which included categories like “Australian Geography,” “Quota International History,” “District 7 Club Facts,” and “Outback Animals.”
Preparing the newsletter and annual dinner requires the participation of every member in some way, whether brainstorming ideas, hosting the dinner, or writing articles. It has also involved other clubs, as the Cedar Rapids club shares its newsletter with the Hunter Valley and all District 7 clubs.
Marian is enthusiastic about the relationship and all its benefits. “Find out what [your Friendship Club is] doing and publicize it to your members,” she recommends. “Encourage your Friendship Club to do the same. If you have a newsletter, ask your Friendship Club to provide a monthly article for it. It’s surprising what you can learn that you might be able to implement in your own club or community.”
These clubs truly reflect Quota’s spirit of international friendship, proving that no distance can dilute the spirit of sharing.
“Even though our Hunter Valley club sisters aren’t with us,” Marian says, “this is one great way for us, as a club, to celebrate the bonds we’re [forming] with fellow Quotarians half a world away.”