It’s a Wonderful Life through Rotary

131230_pollardBy Bill Pollard, past governor of District 7600 (Virginia, USA), and member of the Rotary Club of Churchland, Virginia

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is watching It’s a Wonderful Life. The movie shares with us two important messages: the importance of friends and the positive impact each of us makes on the lives of others.

At the end of the movie George Bailey finds a copy of the book Tom Sawyer, a gift from his guardian angel Clarence who wrote in the book, “Remember,George: no man is a failure who has friends.” Our membership in Rotary provides us with the opportunity to make special and lasting friendships with Rotarians in our clubs, districts, and throughout the world. Continue reading

The benefits of a Rotary Peace Fellowship

Rotary Peace Fellow Julia Smith in South Africa.

Rotary Peace Fellow Julia Smith in Nairobi, Kenya.

By Julia Smith, Rotary Peace Fellow 

In 2008-09, I was lucky enough to be awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship to complete my master’s degree at the University of Bradford. Five years later, I continue to build on that remarkable learning experience.

The University of Bradford is famous for its conflict resolution expertise and I took full advantage of this by taking courses on African Approaches to Conflict Resolution and Applied Conflict Resolution. Continue reading

Many reasons to attend a Rotary convention

Paul Wilson hangs with polio survivor Ramesh Ferris during the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

Paul Wilson hangs out with polio survivor Ramesh Ferris during the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

By Irvin Metcalf, president of the Rotary Club of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England

Other Rotary members often ask me why I and my Rotary Club of Grantham colleague Paul Wilson attended the 2013 Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal. There were so many good reasons!

First and foremost we both wanted to see and meet other Rotary members from all around the world to find out more about Rotary and the inspirational work going on around the globe. Continue reading

Paul Harris on Rotary in a changing world

Quote

“It is well that there is nothing in Rotary so sacred that it cannot be set aside in favor of things better.”

Paul Harris plants a tree in Santiago, Chile.  On this trip, Harris also planted trees in Callao and Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; Valparaiso, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil

Paul Harris plants a tree in Santiago, Chile.
On this trip, Harris also planted trees in Callao and Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; Valparaiso, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil

In 1936, Paul Harris and his wife, Jean, traveled throughout Central and South America. Upon their return to Chicago, Paul shared his experiences in Peregrinations III.

Reflecting on a tree planting in Chile — one of many during the trip, he noted that he thought of tree plantings as a symbol of good will, and hoped that the trees he had planted at home and abroad would stand for generations. Continue reading

Preparing future leaders to pursue peace

Elsa Garcia Soto at the United Nations in New York.

Elsa Soto Garcia at the United Nations in New York.

By Elsa Soto Garcia, Rotaract Club of Mexicali Industrial, Mexico 

Walking through the doors of the United Nations headquarters building in New York was an awesome experience. Sitting in a room full of students from 30 different nationalities, sharing ideas on how to promote the model UN programs in our countries, was even more amazing.

I have been taking part in model UN programs for many years. Continue reading

Rotaract Model UN instills courage

Delegates to the Rotaract Model UN in Romania practice diplomacy.

Delegates to the Rotaract Model UN in Romania learn the discipline of decision-making.

By Alina Cristina Buteica, member of the Rotaract club of Bucharest Triumph, and participant in the first-ever Rotaract Model UN in Romania

The courage to shine and take a stand. The courage to make informed decisions that will impact the world. The courage to find innovative ways for building international dialogue.

These are the things that come to my mind in reflecting on what I learned during the Rotaract Global Model United Nations in  Baia Mare, Romania, 21-25 August. I had just spent a full year working in 10 countries in Africa when a good friend told me about this initiative and encouraged me to apply. I could hardly have imagined what I would experience.  Continue reading

Building peace in Northern Ireland

Enda Young, right, with the West Belfast delegation and 2012-13 RI President Sakuji Tanaka at the peace conference in Londonderry-Derry.

Enda Young, right, with members of the Belfast West Rotary Club and 2012-13 RI President Sakuji Tanaka, second from left, during the peace conference in Derry-Londonderry.

By Enda Young, a Rotary Peace Fellow and member of the E-Club of District 1100

On stage, the women shared their stories — the suffering and pain of losing loved ones or being caught up in the conflict in Northern Ireland.

As I watched, I couldn’t help notice that most of the audience was in tears. The Theatre of Witness performance was a highlight of the three-day Rotary peace conference in Derry-Londonderry in May, Continue reading

Rotary club flag survives ravages of war in the Dutch East Indies

The club banner for the former Rotary Club of Batavia.

The club banner for the former Rotary Club of Batavia.

By Frans Erik Kramer, Jr., Phd

The ingenuity and courage of one woman, my mother, is responsible for preserving a relic from the pre-World War II Rotary Club of Batavia (Jakarta), Indonesia. It is in memory of her selfless devotion that I share this story.

In March of 1942, three months after the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese took possession of the Dutch East Indies, now named Indonesia. We were living in Batavia (re-named Jakarta in 1945) at the time. My father, chairman of the semi-private government Agricultural Trade Union Association, was president of the Rotary Club of Batavia. During the occupation, he became the head of a resistance group in West Java.  Continue reading

Life after becoming a Rotary Peace Fellow

Anne Smiley during her studies at the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand in 2012.

Anne Smiley during her studies at the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand in 2012.

By Anne Smiley, a 2012 graduate of the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

My only hesitation in jumping at the incredible opportunity to be a Rotary Peace Fellow was looking forward to retirement and not having to do anything! A dear friend of mine who took part in the program encouraged me, saying “It will change your life.” Indeed, after the program, I could no longer come home and look the other way or not respond to issues that I care deeply about. Continue reading

The inspiration behind the Rotary Peace Song

RI President Sakuji Tanaka presents an award to Ralf Trautwein, president of the Rotary Club of Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

RI President Sakuji Tanaka presents an award to Ralf Trautwein, president of the Rotary Club of Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

By Ralf Trautwein, president of the Rotary Club of Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. In English and German.

This year’s convention in Lisbon was my first, mainly because I dislike air travel. But I had a very good reason to overcome my fear of flying this year. I was invited as a personal guest of RI President Sakuji Tanaka to present our project, the “Rotary Peace Song” during the closing plenary session. Continue reading