LEWISTON — Patrice Boudreau could have spent the day playing golf or taking a historic walking tour of downtown Lewiston.
Instead, he spent Saturday afternoon with a few other Rotarians and 25 exchange students from around the world in a Lisbon Street storefront, painting a four-panel mural.
“This is what we do; we lead the youth,” Boudreau said.
The youth coordinator for the Rotary Club in Quebec-East, Boudreau is one of 203 Rotarians staying in Lewiston this weekend, part of the annual meeting of Rotary Club District 7790. It includes clubs from Lewiston to Quebec and Montreal, and everywhere in between.
This year, they brought Rotary International exchange students spending the year in Maine or Montreal.
“We try and do a service project, something to thank the community that’s hosting us,” said Al Feather of Farmington, Youth Exchange Coordinator for Maine.
Working with local Rotary Club members, the city of Lewiston and Fuel restaurant owner Eric Agren, they settled on the mural project.
Designed by one of the exchange students, it was painted on canvases in a vacant building Agren owns a few doors down from Fuel. When it’s dry, it will be hung on the front of the former McCrory’s Building, directly across Lisbon Street from Fuel.
Feather said 25 of the district’s 53 clubs are hosting exchange students, and they represent 23 countries around the world, including Brazil, Japan, Thailand and Croatia.
Petra Parac, 17, of Croatia, is staying with a family in Rockport. She’s scheduled to go back home at the end of July.
“I’ll just really remember the people, how welcoming everyone has been,” Parac said. “Everyone has really accepted me.”
The District Conference wraps up today, Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club member Claire Durgin said.
On Friday, members had a Mardi Gras-themed celebration at the Franco-American Heritage Center. Most attended meetings at the Ramada Inn on Saturday, followed by tours and special excursions. Those included golf at Twin Cities courses, a tour of Museum L-A and other downtown sites and a field shooting excursion in Durham.
“It’s another very nice chance to show off our area,” Durgin said.