By Ann Marie Ellis, Rotary Club of Austin, Texas, USA
I had been to Serbia in 2019 before as a tourist, but I didn’t expect that I’d develop a life-long relationship with the people, the country, and its traditions through Rotary. However, that’s exactly what happened.
In the spring of 2020, I received an email from former Governor Vladimir Matic in District 2483 (Serbia & Montenegro) asking if my club, the Rotary Club of Austin, would participate as the international partner on a global grant. The grant would be part of a new initiative called Hearts of Europe, which is a collaboration between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Rotary International.
By Mary Shackleton, Empowering Girls Initiative Ambassador for Zone 32 (Bermuda; Northeastern USA) and Nikita Williams, Empowering Girls Initiative team member for Zone 28 (Canada; Michigan, Washington, and Alaska, USA)
Teenage girls all over the world struggle with self-confidence. Recently, a team of Rotary members and Toastmasters in our Rotary zones set out to help girls build their leadership skills. Both Rotary and Toastmasters International are committed to helping girls embrace their full potential.
We decided to use Toastmasters’ time-tested Youth Leadership Program (YLP) to benefit younger members of the Rotary community. Our effort, which we call the Empowering Girls YLP program, gives girls a space to discover and amplify their voices and ideas over eight weeks. The program’s unique, workshop-style design lets the girls develop speaking and leadership skills in a safe space. They learn about topics like Public Speaking; Using Body Language & Gestures; Active Listening; Giving Feedback; and Impromptu Speaking.
By Eve Fraser, charter president of the Rotary Club of Global Water Safety & Drowning Prevention
Who would have thought a soccer team getting stuck in a cave in remote Thailand would lead to the chartering of a new Rotary club for water safety and drowning prevention? Yet here we are!
In April 2021, the United Nations declared drowning to be the number-one cause of preventable deaths around the world. Africa and Asia were identified as the most affected regions. I had observed over the years swimming teachers delivering lessons to communities in need, struggling with the sheer volume of people who needed to learn to swim and the funding to deliver those programs. I imagined a club where members with the knowledge, skills, and experience worked together to train swimming teachers and help communities deliver sustainable programs.
There are times when events in the world leave you speechless. As I watched the news from Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquakes there, I found myself in disbelief and despair as, day after day, the number of casualties and missing grew. I have friends who live very close to the epicenter, and I have not heard from them. I hold out hope that I will.
My friendships go back decades to when we were teenagers, living in Paris, and our parents were working in France as expatriates. After our parents decided to return to our countries of origin, we stayed in contact loosely through phone and mail.
By Kennedy K. Brooks, a participant in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Academy in Missouri, USA. Photos by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International
Last July, I attended a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) Academy in Missouri, USA, that changed my life. I found myself in the right place at the right time. In the span of less than four days, I made unbelievable friendships, met mentors who were willing to give me wise counsel, and learned skills that I can use to explore a future of endless opportunities.