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

Finding meaning in life during a Rotary Youth Exchange

"Louis" Liu (right) is welcomed by members of the West Oak High School Interact Club.

“Louis” Liu (right) is welcomed by members of the West Oak High School Interact Club.

By I-Ting “Louis” Liu

In 2013-14, I took part in a Rotary Youth Exchange from Taiwan to the United States. It gave me the opportunity to see things from a new perspective, think differently, and to gain a better understanding of myself. I made many new friends.

I grew up in a single parent home with my mother, who had lost most of her left arm earlier in life. She was beautiful and strong and took care of me herself. We had no income and survived on the money the government gave us each month. I brought home part of my school lunch to use as breakfast or dinner the next day. This gave me compassion for children who don’t have enough to live on. Continue reading

Australian Rotary Youth Exchange student warms to Brazil

Courtney (left) meets the Rotary Youth Exchange safari in 2013. Photo courtesy of District 9800

Courtney (left) meets the Rotary Youth Exchange safari in 2013. Photo courtesy of District 9800

By Courtney, a Rotary Youth Exchange student sponsored by Rotary District 9550 (Australia)

Thanks to my Rotary Youth Exchange in Brazil, I now have friends from all corners of the globe. I have made some of the best friends I’ve ever had here, and it has been an amazing experience.

A little more than two years ago, I was sitting along the highway in a small town in the Queensland Outback watching traffic go by, when two members of a Rotary Youth Exchange safari tour walked by and struck up a conversation. Little did I know that simple conversation, and later meeting the entire busload of teens on the safari, would eventually lead to my own Rotary Youth Exchange, with financial support from the Rotary District that covers Queensland and from members and clubs throughout southeast Australia. Continue reading

Building peace through storytelling

Kiran Singh Sirah at the United Nations during International Day of Peace.

Kiran Singh Sirah (left) at the United Nations in New York during International Day of Peace.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow, Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

There are moments in our lives that we remember forever. These moments become our stories and help us understand and connect with a larger global community. When we tell our stories, we inspire others to tell their stories, and that produces positive change. Ultimately, through the power of storytelling, we build healthier communities, more effective workplaces, and schools of learning that enrich our lives. Continue reading

Growing up in the family of Rotary

Gabija Trimbel and members of her club.

Gabija Trimbel and other counselors of a summer camp run by the Rotary Club of Vilnius International.

By Gabija Trimbel, a member of the Rotaract Club of Vilnius International

Gabija Trimbel

Gabija Trimbel

I have been around Rotary much of my life. My mother is a member of the Rotary Club of Vilnius International, Lithuania, and almost as early as I can remember, I have been helping with club projects.

When I entered ninth grade in 2009, I convinced a bunch of my friends to help me form the Vilnius International Interact Club, of which I became the charter president. We kept in touch with my mother’s Rotary club, which was our host club, and did many projects with them, including serving as counselors at an annual camp attended by orphans and children from day care centers that served the poor. Continue reading

Miami club reconnects with local scholarship recipients

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Marcia Brod

By Marcia Brod, a member of the Rotary Club of Miami

Ever think of finding 600+ needles in a haystack? The idea intrigued me and so I began the “reconnect” project in 2010 for the Rotary Club of Miami.

The Rotary Club of Miami awards scholarships to local high school graduates who are now attending medical school through the Thomas Brown McClelland Trust. The Trust was set up through an endowment established by Miami Rotarian Thomas Brown McClelland upon his passing in the early 1980s. It has since awarded over $6 million in scholarships. But no effort was ever made to reach out to former recipients to track their successes and explore opportunities within the network. Hoping to track the impact, I took on the task.  Continue reading

Rotary Scholar helps the homeless through art

Katie (center) with two of her paintings, held by Liz Powers and her brother, Spencer.

Katie (center) with two of her paintings, held by Liz Powers and her brother, Spencer.

By Liz Powers, 2011-12 Rotary Scholar to Edinburgh, Scotland

“You feel like you are on guard 24/7,” shared Scott Benner, a homeless individual in the Boston area.

Scott is one of the many homeless individuals who has shared with me the everyday dangers and fears that he faces. My friend Katie Hickey Schultz faced similar challenges during her 10 years of chronic homelessness. Continue reading