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Special visitor a giveback to Westhampton Rotary

Shabbir Potia, right, lived with the family of

Shabbir Potia, right, lived with the family of Ann Kirsch, left, 33 years ago in Westhampton Beach as an exchange student from India. Recently he visited with his wife, Maria, and daughter, Alefa, from their home in Mumbai. Credit: Westhampton Rotary

Hank Beck, a volunteer for the Westhampton chapter of the business and professional leaders' group Rotary International, sends along a story about how East End Rotarians "build goodwill and peace in the world."

Beck, chairman of the Hamptons Visitors Council, in a Monday news release tells of Anne Kirsch, of Westhampton, and how, 33 years ago, Kirsch had hosted a Rotary Exchange student from India, Shabbir Potia.

"Kirsch was having a normal day at home last Wednesday until the telephone rang. It was a surprise phone call" from Shabbir Potia, who now lives in Mumbai.

"Shabbir and his family were in the area for the day and he came to the Kirsch house with his wife, Maria, and 16-year-old daughter Alefa," the Rotary news release says.

"Shabbir still refers to the Kirsches as 'Mom and Dad' and after much reminiscing they went to long-time favorite food spot Eckert's" luncheonette.

The Rotary International Student Exchange program says its program "produces life-long relationships and friendships that transcend all barriers."

The Westhampton chapter is now hosting three students -- from Chile, Slovakia and Indonesia. Next year's students, for the 2011-2012 school year, have already been selected and are from India, Spain and France.

Westhampton Rotary welcomes all families to apply as hosts for next year in this unique and rewarding experience. Host family applicants do not need to be members of Rotary. Most host family costs are paid by local Rotary clubs, with the exception of air fare and incidental personal expenses.

The club meets Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. at Finn McCool's, 101 Riverhead Rd., Westhampton Beach.

Photo: From left,  Ann Kirsch, Maria Potia, Alefa Potia, Shabbir Potia.

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