By Ann Syrett, former Ambassadorial Scholar and member of the Rotary Club Sunrise of Road Town, British Virgin Islands
In April, I paid an emotional visit to the Rotary Club of Newcastle-under-Lyme that had hosted my Ambassadorial Scholarship more than 40 years ago while I attended Keele University in North Staffordshire, England.
As I shared my experiences with them, I reflected upon how much the experience had changed my life. I grew up in Astoria, Oregon, and the cultural differences between small town USA and Keele University were immense. I was delighted by the warmth of my welcome and at the opportunity to speak to 35 Rotary clubs, Round Table clubs (an association of young business professionals founded by a British Rotarian in the 1920s), and similar organizations during my year. It gave me the confidence to pursue a career as a diplomat.
After my scholarship year, I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a Master’s degree in West African history and economics. I signed up with the U.S. Foreign Service and spent the next 30 years traveling the world, representing my country in Rwanda, Great Britain, Haiti, France, Antigua, and Egypt. I also had several assignments at the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C., before retiring to the British Virgin Islands with my husband, Tony, a former Lt. Commander in the British Royal Navy. I am now heavily involved in the Rotary Club Sunrise of Road Town, British Virgin Islands.
Every dime, every cent, every dollar, every pound we give to The Rotary Foundation is put to good use.
As Rotary members, we are regularly asked to give to The Rotary Foundation. This may seem like a very big picture operation. However, that big picture is actually made up of thousands and thousands of individual pixels, representing the individual projects, scholarships, grants, etc., that the Foundation supports.
I was one of those pixels. My life was changed and directed by my year as an Ambassadorial Scholar. Going from small town American girl to worldly-wise Scholar to American diplomat with a 30 year career AND a wonderful English husband were all results of the journey Rotary set me upon. I can personally tell you that every dime, every cent, every dollar, every pound we give to the Foundation is put to good use.
The impact of those donations, given so long ago, are still felt strongly in my life. Your contributions to the Foundation resonate around the world, year in and year out. In my case, 43 years out!