Looking (way) back at a big adventure

Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.

Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.

By Katherine Ward

Thirty years ago, at the age of 18, I started a grand adventure and boarded a plane on my own toward Istanbul, Turkey. I was headed off on a yearlong Rotary Youth Exchange.

Before I left, I attended several camps that prepared us for culture shock and gave us a general sense of some of the changes we could expect. My high school wouldn’t accept any credits from Turkey, so I had accelerated my course schedule, completing all but one required course to graduate.

I spoke absolutely no Turkish but, despite my struggles with language learning at the Continue reading

Breaking stereotypes in the Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

By Talha Mushtaq

Many nonprofits are working hard to increase social welfare programs. Being unified in their approach, some may focus on one issue, such as improving the literacy rate, while others concentrate on employment. Our Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar has made a name for itself in our community by being multifaceted.

One of over 8,000 Rotaract clubs around the world supported by Rotary, we are committed to not only supporting education but to other efforts, including the fight to
eradicate polio. These efforts have Continue reading

Celebrating the International Day of Peace in Central Mexico

Participants in last year's International Day of Peace celebration form a peace circle.

Participants in last year’s International Day of Peace celebration form a peace circle.

By Wendy Coulson Catalán

Upon landing in Mexico in late April, I hit the ground running. I was asked to share my amazing experience as a recent graduate of the Rotary Peace Center in Bangkok at a peace conference organized by our local Rotary club and Camino de la Paz. Soon after, I was invited to participate on the organizing committee for International Peace Day.

There is a huge imperative in the world, and in our little community in Central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, to create peace among our citizens on both sides of a huge social and economic divide. Two years ago, a concerned group of community members came together to promote peace by acting as an umbrella group for all the peace initiatives in town. The group, which includes several Rotary members, calls itself Camino de la Paz — The Way, or Path, of Peace.  Continue reading

Little Rotary moments that transformed my life

Heidi Resetaritis at a 5K walk/run to promote health and fitness and raise money for PolioPlus.

Heidi Resetarits at a 5K walk/run that raised money for PolioPlus.

By Heidi Resetarits

Little moments of connectivity in life — who you talk to, who you share with — can completely change your trajectory. A few years ago at a holiday work party, I met my friend and future mentor, Ann Tull. The party was dull, but our conversation sparked a little light in me that transformed my life.

Ann introduced me to Rotary, and eventually encouraged me to apply for an Ambassadorial Scholarship. I realized that working toward higher education and a future that revolved around Service Above Self was what I was looking for. A year later and I was on my way to the United Nations University for Peace in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica, as an Ambassadorial Scholar from Rotary District 5450. Continue reading

Rotary exchange inspires children’s books about animals

Rachel Shaw with Rotary members at the launch of her book in Manila.

Rachel Shaw (middle, first row) with Rotary members at a book launch in Manila.

By Rachel Shaw, honorary member of the Rotary Club of West Bay, Laguna, Philippines.

Six years ago, I visited the Philippines as part of a Group Study Exchange team from Rotary District 1270 (Lincolnshire, England).The opportunity to visit one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots as a professional wildlife conservationist became for me the start of a new writing and illustrating adventure.

Glimpsing just a little of the amazing diversity of animals sparked my imagination. Continue reading

Dr. Geetha Jayaram to be honored at convention

Dr. Geetha Jayaram

Dr. Geetha Jayaram

Dr. Geetha Jayaram has dedicated her life to helping people in her native India and the United States overcome the torment of severe depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, and other mental illnesses. She is a psychiatrist and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

You’ll have a chance to hear Jayaram during the 2015 Rotary Convention in São Paulo, where she will be honored with the 2014-15 Rotary Foundation Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award on 8 June. Inspiring speakers are just one of the many reasons Rotary members attend a convention. Register now to take advantage of special pricing through 31 March.

Read more about Jayaram

A day at Chulalongkorn studying peace

Rotary Peace Fellows attend the first week of classes at Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand.

Rotary Peace Fellows attend the first week of classes at Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand.

By Marty Peak Helman, Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, USA

My husband, Frank, and I were recently invited to sit in on a day of classes during the first week of the current Rotary Peace Center’s certificate program, held at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Every year, Rotary selects 50 mid-life professionals in a worldwide search to come to Bangkok for three months to study peace and conflict resolution.

As I looked around the room, I realized that
I was surrounded by professionals who Continue reading

Rotary Peace Fellow: storytelling can build peace

Kiran Sirah speaks at the International Assembly 21 January. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Kiran Sirah speaks at the International Assembly 22 January. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Kiran Sirah is the executive director of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He graduated from the Rotary Peace Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013 with a Master of Arts in Folklore. The following is a excerpt from his speech 22 January at the International Assembly, a training event for incoming leaders in San Diego, California, USA.

There is a saying: The world is like a book, and those who do not travel will only ever have read the first page. For me storytelling is a way of traveling the world. Why? Because it enables us to be inspired, to follow our dreams, and to realize that our stories belong to a world full of stories just waiting to unfold.

Continue reading

Recycling old shoes to protect the environment

Shoes collected during the drive.

Shoes collected during the drive.

By Anit Thapaliya, president of the Rotaract Club of Pashupati Kathmandu, Nepal

We collected more than 1,100 pairs of used shoes to be recycled and reused as part of our project “Yes Dear, You Change Before the Climate.” It proved that we can teach others to change their behaviors before our climate changes, for the worse.

We set out with the help of Working Hands, a local nongovernmental organization, to convince people to give us their old shoes
instead of throwing them away. Shoes take Continue reading

Celebrating 20 years of service by Rotaractors in Lithuania

Rotaractors in Lithuania during their annual conference in District 1462.

Rotaractors in Lithuania during an annual conference.

By Laurynas Suodaitis, chair of the council of Rotaract clubs for District 1462 

This past year, 2014, was special to us because not only did it mark 80 years of Rotary in Lithuania, but 20 years of Rotaract in the country. The first Rotaract Club was chartered in Kaunas. There are now eight active Rotaract clubs in Lithuania, drawing together nearly 200 young leaders eager to make a positive change in society. Continue reading