International pursuits

Community comes together to share unique experiences and cultures

Created date

November 21st, 2018
Highland Springs Executive Director Matt Neville (left) and Rosian Zerner, founder of the International Club, display their names written in Korean during the International Club’s presentation of “Korea: Then and Now.”

Highland Springs Executive Director Matt Neville (left) and Rosian Zerner, founder of the International Club, display their names written in Korean during the International Club’s presentation of “Korea: Then and Now.”

It’s been five years since Rosian Zerner moved to Highland Springs, and she’s making her mark on the community in the most extraordinary way.

Rosian founded the International Club, now in its third year at the North Dallas community.

“The mission of the International Club is to offer educational and social opportunities for residents interested in world cultures,” says Rosian, whose interest in global affairs stems from her own background. She was born in Lithuania and lived in Italy for six years before her family immigrated to the United States. She’s traveled to 87 countries and speaks several languages.

“The more I got to know my neighbors at Highland Springs, the more I realized that many of them had international experiences of their own,” she says. “I wanted to provide an avenue to highlight and share those experiences.”

The International Club meets four times a year, alternating between small, intimate dinners for a select group of guests, and large presentations open to the community. The club also hosts an annual dinner to jointly celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, complete with musical performances and stories.

“Each of the smaller dinners has a targeted demographic,” says Rosian. “I’ve organized a dinner for residents born outside of the United States, one for residents who have traveled to more than ten countries, another for residents who lived abroad for more than a year, and most recently one for residents who worked or volunteered abroad. The goal of each dinner is to build connections between residents who share common international experiences.”

Diverse speakers

When it comes to planning the large-scale presentations open to all community members, Rosian says speakers have come into her life at just the right time.

“I moved to Highland Springs from Massachusetts, so I didn’t have connections in Dallas, or in Texas for that matter,” she says. “It’s as though there’s an International Club fairy leading me to just the right people.”

To date, the International Club has hosted the president and vice president of the Korean Society of Dallas for a program on “Korea: Then and Now,” and Consul Guido Arochi from the Mexican Consulate in Dallas who gave an overview of the history of Mexico.

Other speakers include Charles Foster, an immigration attorney who shared his expertise on China; Mike Decker, principal and partner with Wingate Partners, who spoke about his travels to over 150 countries; and Josh McDowell, author of More Than a Carpenter, who brought his collection of ancient scrolls.

“Rosian shares her gifts to create dynamic conversations about international history and cultures through various speakers visiting Highland Springs,” says Executive Director Matt Neville. “Our residents are engaged in the diversity of programming Rosian pursues through the International Club. We appreciate the speakers who have brought their compelling stories to Highland Springs.”

Churchills and Roosevelts

Earlier this year, Rosian invited Jonathan Sandys, great-grandson of Winston Churchill and author of God & Churchill, to speak at a gathering of the International Club.

“It was standing-room only in Chisholm’s Restaurant for Jonathan’s presentation,” says Rosian. “He spoke about Churchill’s faith and his role in history. It was incredible.”

Rosian made another notable connection when she met Kim Roosevelt at an event in Dallas. Kim Roosevelt is married to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s great-grandson David.

“I asked Kim if she would like to meet Jonathan Sandys, Churchill’s great-grandson,” says Rosian. “She and David said yes, and I invited them to dine at Highland Springs. It was quite an experience to share a meal with the descendants of FDR and Churchill.”

As a result of that meeting, Rosian invited David Roosevelt’s sister, Liz Roosevelt Kelly, to speak at a gathering of the International Club.

Kelly’s presentation was the first International Club meeting held in the new arts and enrichment center at Highland Springs. With a capacity of 250, the arts and enrichment center was the perfect venue to host such a dynamic speaker. Kelly spoke about Eleanor Roosevelt’s syndicated newspaper columns, “My Day,” which she wrote from 1935 to 1962.

“I continue to be amazed at all the ways the International Club is bringing together people within our community and finding ways to engage with our larger global society,” says Rosian, who’s already begun working on programs for 2019. “When I came to Highland Springs, I wanted to find a way to contribute where I sensed a need. Serving my friends and neighbors comes from my heart.”