Mike Ellis is starting a monthlong visit to Denmark as part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange team.
Ellis, 35, is controller at Delta Dental of Kansas. He and other team members will share business information about this Rotary district with Rotary members and clubs in Denmark. They'll stay in members' homes and meet with their professional counterparts.
Rotary Group Study Exchange is a Rotary Foundation program designed to develop professional and leadership skills in young adults who are not Rotary members. A team of four to six people, chosen by application, is led by a Rotary member.
Others on Ellis' team are team leader DeAnn Sullivan of Sullivan & Associates, Ben Graber of the city of Andover, Jan Jones of Wichita public schools, Bailey Stiggins of Reno County Communities That Care and Samantha Tull of Fidelity Bank.
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How did you find out about the program?
"From my CEO and my CFO here at Delta Dental. We were actually traveling up to Kansas City, so they had me hostage. They heard about it from another gentleman here who is a Rotarian, Dr. (Jon) Tilton."
What interested you in the experience?
"I had never been over to Europe at all, and also personally, I think it's a great opportunity. And it's really an opportunity I don't think I'll ever get to have again — to go over there and live in people's homes for 28 days. So the culture side of it will be amazing.... I think that's the thing that interested me the most, was getting that experience."
What about the professional side of the trip?
"We're going to do presentations to Rotary clubs, and then we're also going to have vocational days... and see how they do it over there. So a lot of personal and lot of professional, to be honest."
How did you get ready for the trip?
"Luckily, it wasn't a real spur-of-the-moment thing. I've trained several people here on my duties at work, and they're ready to go. I think it will benefit the company in the long run, training people to do the things I do all the time, so when I come back, in an emergency, there will be people prepared to take over."
Did you have a lot of homework for the trip?
"Not a lot. I've read about their health care and their insurance companies, and that's been very interesting, because they have more of a government program than we do presently, but as you know, that's changing.... Very few of the residents there have private insurance, so I've researched that structure.... The insurance side of it is where I think there's going to be quite a bit of difference. I don't suspect that finance is going to be a whole lot different overseas than what it is here."
What obligations do you have on your return?
"We have to, obviously, do a write-up on what we learned over there and our experiences, and then also we have several presentations to Rotary clubs here in our district."
You'll be doing presentations on southwest Kansas and Oklahoma while in Denmark?
"That is correct. That is the Rotary district — it's 5690.... It's basically from the El Dorado area all the way to Colorado, and then the panhandle of Oklahoma."
Are these trips done every year?
"It has been done most years. It has been done for a long time.... We just had a group come back last month from Germany. I'd never heard of this, and it's an amazing opportunity."