May 21 03:10 AM

International Scouts find common ground

Almont families host entourage of 20 from Taiwan, Uganda & Ireland

Almont Scouts are enjoying an international experience as hosts to Scouts from Ireland, Taiwan and Uganda.

August 06, 2008
ALMONT — For the past week-and-a-half, members of Boy Scout Troop 128 and their families have been engaged in an exercise of international goodwill.

Since July 20, troop members have played host to an entourage of 20 international Scouts and Scout Leaders from Taiwan, Uganda and Ireland.

Seven local host families participated in the Michigan International Camporee 2008 program, which affords Scouts from other countries to share experiences with their American counterparts.

Brenda Savonne, whose family has served as one of the hosts, said the foreign exchange offers a unique opportunity to bridge cultures and nationalities.

"It's been a great way to learn about the other cultures," said Brenda, whose son Stephen is an Eagle Scout candidate with Troop 128. "Everyone learns a lot from these kinds of experiences. All of the kids mix well and get along great."

Since arriving for a welcoming pig roast at the Savonne home last Saturday, the visitors have had a busy calendar of activities.

On their agenda were visits to Lansing, where they toured the Michigan State Capitol and museum; a trip to Cedar Point, and a bicycle ride around Almont, including a tour of the high school.

While the cultural differences among the Scouts were evident, said Savonne, the similarities were equally striking.

"They all seem to like games and sports," she said. "The Taiwanese love to play chess, and the Irish like to do hurling. They all enjoy American football and volleyball."

Yet another American tradition enjoyed by all was bowling, a sport not necessarily common in places like Taiwan and Uganda.

"They all went bowling at Hideaway Lanes and they just loved doing that," said Savonne. "The bowling alley allowed us to do a fundraiser and gave us a great deal on bowling."

The week of indoctrination to American life was followed by a campout at Northwoods Campground, near West Branch.

On Aug. 4, the entire entourage is scheduled to bid adieu to their American hosts, but not without having enjoyed a culturally enriching experience.

"We all learn from this," said Savonne. "It was great to see everyone get along so well. All our host families have commented that the experience was wonderful and they want to do it again."

Savonne added that another contingent of international Scouts, including some from Hungary, Jordan and Taiwan, were hosted by the Venture Crew Scouts #39 of Attica.

Troop 129 has 17 Scouts, four leaders and one staff person attending the camporee. The leaders include: John Wrobel Jr., Scott McLean, John Wrobel III, and Timothy Savonne.

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