Rotary selects Goad for Malaysia team

The GSE team waited on the red carpet to greet His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Perak at the 100th anniversary Rotary District Conference. The team was later invited for tea at the royal palace.

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The GSE team waited on the red carpet to greet His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Perak at the 100th anniversary Rotary District Conference. The team was later invited for tea at the royal palace.

Jessica MacIntosh

CORRECTION: William Trudeau’s name is missplelled in the story. Also, Goad’s son is the fifth grade, not sixth.

“It was the trip of a lifetime.”

Stephanie Goad, international student advisor and exchange program coordinator, was given the chance to travel to Malaysia for 36 days through a group study exchange through the Rotary district 6110.

William Troudeau, director of the international English program, nominated Goad for the group study exchange.

“The criteria were that you could not be a Rotarian, and you had to be between the ages of 25 and 40,” Goad said.

Goad said Troudeau thought with her experience as a reporter, in public relations and in the international field, “it would be what they are looking for in a professional to send on this team.”

“He encouraged me to apply,” she said.

The team consisted five representatives from Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri.

After two spots were filled and three spots remained, Goad “just happened to get one of them” in which she would be the representative from Missouri.

“It was kind of surreal at first because when they told me I guess I could not believe it at first,” she said. “It just did not sink in until September. Finally in December, I was like ‘oh my gosh, I am going to Malaysia.'”

Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies, said being able to go to Malaysia with her working knowledge gave her first-hand experience.

“By sending Stephanie to Malaysia for five weeks, we were [not only] able to broaden to her own horizons, [but] we were able to expand Missouri Southern’s presence,” he said.

The trip consisted of making presentations, visiting different universities and schools and handing out brochures and business cards.

“We had to represent our workplace,” she said. “It wasn’t a pleasure trip or anything. We actually had to work pretty hard. We were kept hopping.”

Goad hopes by meeting with the universities, Missouri Southern will start study abroad exchanges.

“They are interested in getting exchanges going because they would love to send more students here,” she said.

She thinks it would be an “easy sell” to Southern students because they can take classes that are taught in English.

She said the students would be able to experience the cultures the country has to offer.

“I think it would be a great marriage,” Goad said. “There is so much to offer our students there.”

The group also had to go on vocational visits including touring a palm oil factory, a rice mill and a dragon fruit farm.

Along with the presentations, Goad had the chance to ride a horse on the beach, do a canopy walk through the rainforest and go to the elephant sanctuary to ride elephants.

Goad said one of the many highlights of her month-long trip was having the opportunity to hold the “mattress baby” who survived the tsunami.

“It was like holding miracle,” she said. “It was worth it to get to hold that baby.”

Having read about the baby before she left, Goad said she felt she had a connection with her.

“The gentleman who was hosting us introduced us to the mother and held that baby,” she said, “and told us who she was. I just couldn’t describe how I felt. I knew they were going to let us hold her whenever I saw him hold her.”

As part of a project ordered by the Prime Minister, the team helped to plant mangrove trees on the beach because many of them were destroyed.

“It makes a difference,” she said.

Goad said they had to go into the forest, identify one particular species of mangrove tree, dig out the saplings and replant them in one specific section of the beach at low tide.

“They help minimize the devastation to the land during a tidal wave or tsunami,” she said. “It protects the ecosystem as well.”

The group stayed with host families from the different parts of the country.

“I had to stay with about 10 different host families,” she said.

She said the interesting part about staying with the families was each was different.

“It was real nice to compare and contrast,” she said.

One of the many struggles Goad had when she went to Malaysia was the 14-hour time difference.

“It took me several days to recover and get back on their schedule even though I didn’t go to bed as soon as I got there,” she said. “I tried to stay up and go through their whole day as late as it is.”

Another hardship was being away from her family for five weeks.

“I am not used to that much time away,” she said.

One of her son’s sixth grade class tracked Goad’s trip. She said she would send e-mails and postcards, and they would put tacks on a map showing where she had been.

“They followed our whole route,” she said. “We would teach them about our trip [and] teach them about Malaysia through our trip.”

Goad said the trip to Malaysia was “rewarding” and “informational.”

“I learned a lot,” she said. “I would like to go back and take a vacation there because I think it would be a lot different. I would be able to relax and enjoy it instead of being rushed.”

Not only does Goad express her gratitude to Southern, but also she expresses it to the Rotary.

“Without that funding for that project, I would not have been able to take part in it,” she said. “To that, I am grateful.”

Goad said she had to go around the world to realize and learn what Rotary does.

“We were part of so many projects,” Goad said. “It was amazing to see what they are doing in regard to the tsunami relief effort and to realize that we’ve got Rotarians here that do similar projects, so it opened my eyes as to what they do as well as open my eyes to another country.”