Adams County native studies Austrian culture this summer

Authored by Jim Langham on Sep 23, 2013

When Tara Burge, formerly of Adams County and a graduate of Bellmont High School, visited Austria this summer, she was well aware that if she had any health crisis that demanded surgery while she was there it would have been free.
Burge told a combined meeting of the Decatur and Berne Rotary clubs at the Back 40 Restaurant in Decatur last week that health care in Austria is free. But not only is health care offered free, so is information about patients.
“HIPA is not of concern there,” said Burge, who now lives and works in Fort Wayne. “They are very free about things; if you want to, you can walk right into the room at a hospital and ask the patients anything that you want to.
“There is no privacy in all of this. It’s common there to see seven or eight people sharing one hospital room,” continued Burge. “Of course, people there are taxed heavily to generate money for this health care.”
Burge said that some of the things she found unique in Austria are the community gardens and the fact that they have Aldi’s grocery stores, but under a different name.
“One thing I liked about their health care is that they emphasize holistic and non-traditional means of care,” said Burge. “They are willing to use music therapy and other therapies in treating and preserving health care.”
Under the program GES - Austria 2013, Burge and fellow Hoosier Rhonda Moxter were part of a Rotary exchange program in which they visited several Rotary clubs and stayed in the homes of Rotary members during their visit. In exchange for the visit of the American team that Moxter and Burge were a part of, four Austrians, also involved in the same study exchange for young adults, came to America to do a similar study of our culture.
In addition to visiting several key cities, the local travelers also visited the remains of a concentration camp from World War II.
“It was eerily beautiful,” said Moxter. “It was in a beautiful setting on a mountain, but all of that was dampened by knowing what happened there.
“History is an everyday part of conversation over there,” continued Moxter. “They have so many more years, so much more history than what we do here.”
One of the main agricultural industries is pork production, which leads to heavy consumption of pork in many meals a week. Desert time is a social time in the afternoon that is usually accompanied by coffee and lasts for an hour or more.
The main way of greeting each other is through hand shaking and it is done each time individuals meet, even if it is multiple times in a day.
Sustaining natural energy is a very common practice among most residents. It includes solar panels and glass floors to allow light to filter through to basements, thus allowing natural lighting for both the first floor and the basement area.
“Their minds are very focused on sustainability,’ said Burge.
Like health care, higher education is also paid for by the government system. Burge said that education vocational efforts start at younger ages than they do in America, allowing for young people to begin their professional trades at a younger age.
“I met a 19-year-old that was already a professional engineer because he had spent most of his life attending an engineer school,” said Burge.
“We visited seven different Rotary clubs and stayed with five families,” observed Moxter. “One thing that bothered me was the fact that they didn’t seem very interested in our country. They were so caught up in their own country that they hardly asked any questions about ours.”

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