Donning a hardhat, safety glasses and work boots as standard safety gear at the Providence Medical Building’s construction site was nothing new to Dan Phillips. The reflective safety vest, however, was a different story.
“We have to take the reflectors off in New Zealand,” explained Phillips, an operations engineer for Opus. “Since we’re so close to the ozone, the sun reflects off the shoulder reflectors and can burn your face really bad.”
Phillips, a native New Zealander with an accent as thick as his mustache, was one of five young professionals who visited the Pacific Northwest for a six-week Group Study Exchange (GSE) program sponsored by the Rotary Foundation. The GSE members spent around five days in each location and were hosted by local Rotarians before moving on to their next location. In each spot, they participated in vocational visits as well as local social activities.
On May 16, Phillips, who specializes in roadwork consulting, visited the Providence Medical Building in Monroe that is currently being built by Sellen Construction as a vocational visit. Sellen Sr. Superintendent Tim Larson toured Phillips and his Monroe Rotary host, Melissa Keating, through the project.
“It’s just good for people to see other countries and learn practices that other countries do,” Keating said. “This exchange program really gives them a flavor for it.”
The New Zealand exchange group began in British Columbia, Canada and worked its way south. After Monroe, Phillips’ next stops were Stanwood and Mt. Vernon. While in the Northwest, the team also had a chance to tour the Boeing factory and attend a Sounders and Mariners game.
“Going to a new place is always exciting,” said Phillips, who was looking forward to the Boeing tour. “I’ve found that we’re really not all that different, even though we’re half a world away from each other, but that there’s always something new to be learned.”