Lingo: Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar tells of year-long study trip to Ireland

September 12, 2001
Santa Paula News

The Rotary Club welcomed Matt Lingo, who recently returned from his year serving as a Rotary Ambassador to Ireland, the first scholar so chosen from Santa Paula in decades.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe Rotary Club welcomed Matt Lingo, who recently returned from his year serving as a Rotary Ambassador to Ireland, the first scholar so chosen from Santa Paula in decades.?Matt represented our club in Belfast, Ireland,? continuing his studies while serving as a Rotary Ambassador to promote international understanding and world peace while taking advanced studies abroad, said Dr. David Stegman of Lingo, a Santa Paula native and 1995 graduate of SPUHS.The Rotary scholarship is one of the most coveted - and difficult - to attain, coupling high standards with a grueling selection process. And one of the best: the special scholarship offers $23,000 for the recipient, who cannot be related to a Rotarian in any way.The Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship was created to foster international relationships through travel and friendships that forge the links between countries. Recipients also act as Rotary Ambassadors and as liaisons for the clubs, including public speaking engagements, among other duties.Lingo is the son of Lou and Charlene Lingo of Santa Paula.Matt and his parents were special guests of the Santa Paula Rotary Club at a recent meeting where he discussed how his travels as an Ambassador helped strengthen his long-term goal to become involved in international politics.?It?s always good to be home,? said Lingo, whose past travels have also included Bosnia.
He spoke of the history of strife in Ireland and updated Rotarians on the peace efforts, as well as he failure of same.Belfast is a ?beautiful? city rich in history, where he made many friends both at Queens University-School of Politics and through Rotary.Lingo?s classmates were an international mix whose studies included case studies of ethic conflicts; representatives from each conflict in the world addressed the history and modern-day experiences of the conflict.Visitors were not encouraged to take photographs of troops, police or damage in Belfast, Lingo noted, and the breach between the Protestants and Catholics impacts all that live in the area, even when it comes to sporting events. Lingo shook hands with President Clinton following a peace rally and was able to observe the public side of negotiations close up.A highlight was a Christmas family visit to several countries, including Paris on New Year?s Eve.Lingo found himself the keynote speaker at the 150 member Belfast Rotary Club; he found the Belfast and Santa Paula clubs have much in common. ?They have a Christmas Basket program and get involved in many youth programs,? that serve both Catholic and Protestant children.In all, Lingo addressed 10 Rotary Clubs in Ireland and found the Irish to be enthusiastic and lively hosts.Lingo said his year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar would not have been possible without the Santa Paula Club: ?It felt great to get to Queens University and represent Santa Paula. . .I want to thank the club and the Rotary Foundation, it was a very unique experience. I was set up with a family of friends immediately, a community connection. The Irish are very generous and Rotary is very like-minded, they want to help the community. Thank you allowing me to tell the Irish about a great town and a great club,? Santa Paula and its Rotary.

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