Posted by Scott Marcin


The Chautauqua Institution has been visited by political figures, celebrities, artists, musicians, scientists, and writers since its founding in 1874. The Institution has been visited by four sitting United States presidents including Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt who was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is "the most American thing in America." And with that backdrop, the Rotary Club of Amherst South hosted a group of Rotarians from Latvia, who were visiting District 7090 as part of Rotary Friendship Exchange.
Amherst South Rotary Club members Julie Ponkow and Sandy Nobel, who have places on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution played host to 10 Rotary members from Latvia who hail from Rotary District 2410 which covers part of Sweden and Latvia. The visitors were participating in the Rotary Friendship Exchange with District 7090.  With AG Aaron Carlson playing the part of the driver, the visiting Rotarians came to Chautauqua and were welcomed at the morning lecture series and then toured the historic grounds, taking in the beautiful scenery and shops.
Later during the day, the visiting Rotarians from Latvia, among whom was included the former Prime Minister of Latvia, Indulis Emsis, were invited to a meeting with the President of the Chautauqua Institution, Michael Hill who welcomed and talked to them and presented them with a gift from the Institution  That evening the group enjoyed a dance performance from the Chautauqua Institution Dance Company Alumni Allstar Ballet Gala.
After remaining overnight at Ashland Guest House, owned by Amherst South Rotarian Julie Ponkow, the Latvians took in some hiking in Zoar Valley, before returning to the hosts in Lockport, from the Lockport RC.  It was a great visit for the visitors who were able to take in one of the cultural gems of WNY, and for the Amherst South Rotary Club, who made some new Rotary friends.