Ask Teri Nanty why the local Rotary Club hand-picked her to travel to Malaysia for one full month to share information about her profession, and this 29-year-old graphics designer will tell you that she met all of the organizations' technical qualifications.
But ask Rotary member Sharesse von Strauss the same question, and you'll get a vastly different response.
"Yes, Teri filled the bill on the qualifications, but there were so many other reasons," said von Strauss, director of the Rim Country Museum and Nanty's chief Rotary promoter. "She and I have had the opportunity to work on the Arizona Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum Committee together, and she was always there, doing anything that needed to be done to realize a goal. Teri carries vision. If she is going to be active, she is going to put 100 percent of herself into it. That's her whole personality. And she is one of the loveliest people I have ever met."
Nanty is now packing for her Monday flight to Kuala Laumpur, Malaysia, thanks to Rotary International's Group Study Exchange program.
A Native American employed by Mazatzal Casino, Nanty is one of only five team members selected from the 43 clubs of Rotary International's District 5510. Within that quintet, she is the only one with an ethnic background, and the only non-Valley resident.
"I knew nothing about Rotary when I went to my first meeting back in August and they voted right there in front of me," Nanty said. "Fortunately, they all voted to send me on Sharesse's recommendation. I don't know what I would have done if no one had raised their hand," she added with a laugh.
Since that time, she said, "I've learned that people in Rotary are just incredible. Once my application was submitted, they tutored me on their own personal time, told me all about Rotary, showed me videos, and told me what to expect if I were to be chosen."
From its inception in 1965, Rotary International's Group Study Exchange program has provided grants for countless teams of men and women in the early stages of their business and professional careers to travel abroad and share vocational information with the representatives of their respective professions in another country.
Nanty will spend her Malaysia time living with a native family by night, and touring different towns and cities by day apart from one week when she will use her job skills at a local business, probably an advertising agency.
Because of her involvement with the Cowboy Hall of Fame committee, Nanty said she hopes to spend her spare minutes if there are any visiting museums. But what she is most excited about is living with a family in an English-speaking country where the population is a mix of Muslim, Islam, Chinese and Hindu.
"... You're not staying in a hotel; you get to see the culture first hand. I am so excited about that. And I'm excited to share my culture. I'm half Apache and half Ute, so I'm taking all kinds of stuff baskets, calendars of our Pow Wows, pictures of Geronimo and wikiups just about anything I can think of that will fit into my luggage."
Those who would like to keep track of Nanty's adventures in Malaysia can do so by visiting the website, www.gse5510.org.
"Every 3 or 4 days, we'll be posting photos of the trip and the journals we'll be writing while we're there," Nanty said. "There's a bulletin board on the site where anyone can leave messages for us, so I can still keep in touch with everyone while I'm gone."
How to qualify
Applicants must be between the ages of 25 and 40 and employed full-time, with a minimum of two-years experience, in a recognized business or profession. In addition, candidates should have some proficiency in the language of the country to which they intend to travel, must be exemplary in their business or professional conduct, enthusiastic about their vocations, and capable of deriving maximum educational value from the program.
After their study abroad, participants are expected to speak about their experiences at Rotary meetings and other civic functions.
Interested applicants should contact their local Rotary club for application materials and information regarding deadlines.