Invite a young person on a service project and change a life

The above video shows images from Danae Cooney’s service project trips to Fiji and to Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity.

By Danae Cooney, a Rotary scholar and former Interactor from Hamilton, New Zealand

Sometimes all it takes is one; one person willing to open a door, offer an opportunity and lead another.

In August 2011, I was 16 years old. I was given the opportunity to participate in a Rotary service project in Fiji. I traveled with a team of Rotarians, including my stepfather, to a small, remote village in Fiji called Saqani, where we refurbished a rotting, unusable preschool. Continue reading

Rotary and UNESCO-IHE partner to raise water standards

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from right) visits a lab at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, in November. From left are Kaycee Okoli, a Rotary Scholar from Nigeria; Titia Jonkman, spouse of governor Nico Jonkman of District 1600; and Henk Jaap Kloosterman, the district’s UNESCO-IHE coordinator.

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from right) visits a lab at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, in November. From left are Kaycee Okoli, a Rotary Scholar from Nigeria; Titia Jonkman, spouse of governor Nico Jonkman of District 1600; and Henk Jaap Kloosterman, the district’s UNESCO-IHE coordinator.

By Henk Jaap Kloosterman, a member of the Rotary Club of Voorburg-Vliet, The Netherlands, and district UNESCO-IHE coordinator

My Rotary life suddenly changed in late 2011, when Rotary Foundation Trustee Stephen R. Brown dropped me an email, saying he was coming to The Netherlands to talk to UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

I knew Stephen from his former involvement in efforts on getting Rotary started in Afghanistan and the Sultanate of Oman (where I lived at the time), and now I suddenly found out that Steve was Continue reading

Rising to the challenges of water management at UNESCO-IHE

Rotary Scholar Kenechukwu "Kaycee" Okoli in Delft, Netherlands.

Rotary Scholar Kenechukwu “Kaycee” Okoli in Delft, Netherlands.

By Kenechukwu “Kaycee” Okoli, Rotary Scholar from Nigeria

Leaving Nigeria for Delft, Netherlands, to take part in a Rotary scholarship program at UNESCO-IHE has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. It has been a goal of mine to pursue advanced studies in hydraulic engineering. Being a Rotary scholar, not only has funding been provided for my graduate studies, but I am part of a strategy conceived by Rotary to address the complex issues of water and sanitation. It inspires me to rise to the challenge of seeking solutions to the world’s water and sanitation crisis as a water professional. Continue reading

Helping save kids’ lives in northern Rwanda

Alexandra Vinograd treats a patient at the hill-top hospital in northern Rwanda. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Vinograd

By Dr. Alexandra Vinograd, a former Rotary Scholar and Youth Exchange Student

I just returned home from two years living and working as a physician in rural Rwanda.

Like the other times I have returned home from abroad, I welcome the familiarity of things. I love understanding the subtleties of language and knowing how to greet someone without seeming awkward. I like the hot showers and my spring mattress and the coffee shop on the corner.  Continue reading

Rotary Scholar to Denmark builds peace

Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar Gregory Rockson (right) talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres in January at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Gregory Rockson

By Gregory Rockson, Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar from District 6080, studying at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Receiving a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Just two months after I arrived in Denmark, I founded the Copenhagen Union, the first English-speaking debate society in Denmark. I was also able to arrange for top Israeli and Palestinian diplomats to speak with University of Copenhagen students at the same time in the same room. Continue reading

Straight talk about peace

Sanjeev Chowdhurry

Former Ambassadorial Scholar Sanjeev Chowdhury spoke at the 2012 Rotary World Peace Symposium. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska

By Sanjeev Chowdhury, former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and consul general of Canada, as told to RI staff writer Ryan Hyland

The biggest roadblock for achieving peace is the absence of understanding. The remedy for this is communication.

Communication is the key to world peace and the lack thereof will stall peace indefinitely. World leaders today aren’t bringing people together like they used to. The breakdown in dialogue has proven to harmful to peace negotiations worldwide.

When people aren’t talking, problems are inevitable. Continue reading

Real change and a Rotary challenge

Former Scholar and Youth Exchange student Hunter Tanous at a Rotary club in Zahle, Lebanon.

Former Ambassadorial Scholar and Youth Exchange student Hunter Tanous recently visited a Rotary club in Zahle, Lebanon.

By Hunter Tanous, alumni of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and Youth Exchange programs

It’s 6:30 a.m. on a work week in Nairobi, Kenya. East Africa is facing possibly the worst drought in 60 years, and I work for the leading social enterprise [Backpack Farm] working with small farmers in the region. I put those together in the same sentence because they are sadly contradictory statements.
Why is it that East Africa, a largely agriculture-based society with the land and labor to feed nearly all of Africa, still falls into famine year after year after year? Even as I speak about the drought in East Africa, little ol’ Zimbabwe is quietly falling into starvation. Zimbabwe, a country that used to be the bread basket of the South, is now facing famine. Why is all this happening?
The list of reasons goes on and on — water, HIV/AIDS, corruption, politics, war. But another reason is a lack of long-term investment and commitment to small-scale growth.