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

What does peace mean to you?

By Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary Editorial staff

Everyone wants peace, notes Rotary Peace Fellow Erinma Bell, a graduate of Rotary’s Peace Center program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

But the biggest challenge with wanting peace is actually getting people to understand that peace means different things to different people. Continue reading

The power of music

130623_powerofmusicBy Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary Editorial staff

Sitting in the Atlantico Pavilion for the opening plenary session of the Lisbon convention, I found myself powerfully moved by the music of Il Divo. The quartet — Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, French pop artist Sebastien Izambard, and American tenor David Miller — served as the closing entertainment for the session.

As they belted out their rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” and “Somewhere,” I was filled with emotion. I could see the passion they were putting into their music. And it made me think about being passionate about what I do. Continue reading

House of Friendship opens

By Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary Editorial staff

Sandra Fidalgo, a member of the Rotary Club of Setubal, Portugal, confided she was a bit nervous before singing, “Sing with me,” an original number she wrote and composed especially for the 2013 convention in Lisbon. She needn’t have been. She performed it beautifully, and the melody and lyrics provided a moving tribute to Rotary’s big gathering in Portugal as the House of Friendship officially opened Saturday. Continue reading

S*@# happens

Meet Mr. Toilet | Jessica Yu from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

By Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary Editorial Staff

Jack Sim is not afraid to say the “s” word.

The founder of the World Toilet Organization shared how he was approached by a Rotarian after his presentation at the World Water Summit Friday. A teacher, the woman said she would love to use his video “Meet Mr. Toilet” in her classroom, but she would have to edit out some of the language. To Sim, that’s the heart of the problem with sanitation. It’s an uncomfortable subject for many. Continue reading

Welcome to Lisbon

Tagus river, Lisbon, Portugal

Tagus River, Lisbon, Portugal

By Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary Editorial Staff

As I watch a vessel leave a wake across the Tagus River from my hotel room in the Amoreiras neighborhood of Lisbon, Portugal, the early morning sun is washing over the terracotta roofs and palm trees are swaying slightly in the light breeze. Continue reading

RI President Tanaka’s Rotary Moments in February, March, and April

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from left) takes part in a Holi festival 27 March, organized by Rotarians in District 3010 (Union Territory, India) during a visit to the district. Holi is a festival of colors celebrated by Hindus mainly in India and Nepal.

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from left) takes part in a Holi festival 27 March, organized by Rotarians in District 3010 (Union Territory, India) during a visit to the district. Holi is a festival of colors celebrated by Hindus mainly in India and Nepal.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

While I was preparing for a Major Donor dinner in Tampa Bay, Florida, on my birthday, which is 4 February, I thought about the past year. As people often do on their birthdays, I was reflecting about how quickly time passes and about my purpose in life of being useful to others — especially during my year as RI president when I feel I must do my best for Rotarians. I was remembering all the places I’ve traveled as a Rotarian and the interesting people I’ve met along the way. Continue reading