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.

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Why telling Rotary’s story is so important

Rotary Director-elect Jennifer E. Jones talks about the importance of Rotary's brand.

Rotary Director-elect Jennifer E. Jones talks about the importance of Rotary’s brand. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

By Ryan Hyland, Rotary editorial staff

More than a year ago, Rotary leaders launched the Strengthening Rotary initiative to enhance and simplify the organization’s story, visual identity, and digital experience. While Rotary’s recognition on the global scale is strong, our image can still use strengthening in local communities.

Speakers at Rotary’s annual training event for leaders in San Diego, California, USA, this week challenged incoming district governors to champion Rotary’s brand in their districts and make sure that their clubs support the effort to tell Rotary’s story in a clear and compelling way. Here’s what a few incoming governors had to say about the initiative: Continue reading

Sesame Street health crusader visits Rotary leaders

Past RI President Bill Boyd and Raya

Past RI President Bill Boyd and Raya. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

By Ryan Hyland, Rotary editorial staff

Rotary leaders received a surprise visit Monday from Raya, one of Sesame Street’s newest puppets, during their annual training exercise in San Diego.

Raya joined past RI President Bill Boyd on stage during the third general session of the 2015 International Assembly, joking about how cool Rotary’s emblem looked and chatting with Boyd about toilets.

Sesame Workshop introduced Raya last year with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to teach the TV show’s millions of young viewers in Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria about sanitation and hygiene.

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Incoming district governors excited to ‘be a gift’

150119_themeBy Ryan Hyland, Rotary editorial staff

Incoming district governors enthusiastically greeted the presidential theme for 2015-16, Be a Gift to the World, during a dinner 18 January at the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event for future district leaders. RI President-elect K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran is asking Rotary members to use their talents, expertise, and leadership in the coming year to transform the lives of others.

We caught up with incoming district governors after the theme was announced to get their thoughts. Continue reading

My Rotary Moment: Emine’s story

140120_alpayBy Şafak Alpay, RI director-elect and a member of the Rotary Club of Istanbul-Sisli, Turkey

About ten years ago, an ambitious literacy campaign was started in our region using the Concentrated Language Encounter (CLE) method. Like all other clubs, my club Sisli participated with great enthusiasm, running a course for women in one of Istanbul’s slum neighborhoods.

On graduation day, one young woman who was among those to receive their certificates captured everyone’s attention. She had both her lower arms missing, and as her certificate was placed under her armpit, Emine timidly asked her instructor to get the sheet of paper she kept in her pocket. It was a thank-you letter written to the person who taught her to read and write.  Continue reading

Incoming district governors excited to Light Up Rotary

140114_themelogoBy Daniela Garcia, RI editorial staff

Incoming district governors enthusiastically greeted the theme for 2014-15, Light Up Rotary, during the first plenary of the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event for future leaders. RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang explained he was inspired by the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucious who said: “It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness.”

I asked several of the future leaders their thoughts about the theme, moments after it had been unveiled here in San Diego, California, USA. Here is what they said: Continue reading

Saving Little Hearts

RI Director Shekhar Mehta shares his Rotary moment during the International Assembly. Rotary International/Monika Lozinska

RI Director Shekhar Mehta shares his Rotary moment during the International Assembly. Rotary International/Monika Lozinska

By RI Director Shekhar Mehta

More often than not, each of my days starts with meeting one or more children who need to get heart surgeries done.

Their mothers and fathers wait for nine months for their bundle of joy to arrive but soon after the child is born they realize that the child has got a hole in the heart. And this creates holes in their hearts and their pockets. Their yearly income is not more than US$600 and the expense for a heart surgery is $3,000. It would take them five years to spend all that they earned to try and save the child, but who knows if the child will survive or not. Continue reading

Rotary Youth Exchange promotes cultural understanding

Derek Osborn addresses the third plenary session of the 2013 International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA. Rotary International/Monika Lozinska

Derek Osborn addresses the third plenary session of the 2013 International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA. Rotary International/Monika Lozinska

By Derek Osborn, a member of the Rotaract Club of Norman, Oklahoma

I believe that everything Rotary does is important. However, I also believe that nothing is more important to Rotary’s future than the programs of New Generations. Encompassed by New Generations are all of Rotary’s programs for people under the age of 30. Interact is for students 12 to 18, Rotary Youth Exchange is for those 15 to 19, Rotaract is for individuals 18 to 30, and RYLA  — Rotary Youth Leadership Awards — is for anyone 14 to 30 years old.

I have been fortunate enough to have known about and participated in Rotary for about 15 years. I was in elementary school when I got to participate in my first Rotary community service project, and it had a profound influence on me. Continue reading

Rotary opens doors, provides access to leaders

Past RI President Frank Devlyn and his wife dance during last year's International Fellowship Dinner and Dance.

Past RI President Frank Devlyn and his wife dance during the Fellowship Dinner and Dance at last year’s International Assembly.

By Past RI President Frank Devlyn

Like many Rotarians, I’ve often reflected on the moments that made me feel proud to be a Rotarian. Usually a highly successful project will come to mind, one that enabled us to help one or even thousands of people live better lives, all because of one special project. I’ve also experienced inspired moments while participating in Rotary projects.

However, I have something to confess: I joined Rotary to take advantage of the networking opportunities it offered me because I felt they would benefit my businesses. Continue reading

Incoming district governors discuss 2013-14 RI theme

The 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives

The 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives

By Daniela Garcia, RI editorial staff, reporting from the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA

Incoming district governors broke into applause as RI President-elect Ron Burton announced the 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives, during the first plenary of the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event for future leaders.

I asked several of the future leaders their thoughts about the theme, moments after it had been announced here in San Diego, California, USA. Here is what they said: Continue reading