From GSE to leadership, my journey into Rotary

GSE team to Switzerland
Vivek Khandelwal (left) and the 2009 Group Study Exchange team to Switzerland.

By Vivek Khandelwal

In 2008, I happened to see a newspaper ad promoting Group Study Exchange through Rotary. Intrigued, I applied for the program never suspecting the many ways this simple action would impact my life.

Dharmendra Gangrade, a Rotary member who had previously taken part in a Group Study Exchange, oversaw training me and other applicants. The path forward was full of twists and turns, but after a year as an alternate, I was selected for a trip to Switzerland the following year.

I experienced many different aspects of my trade as a retail professional in Switzerland. Our team leader did everything he could to enhance our experience and allow us to gain new insights. The affection and kindness that I received from our host families spoke volumes about the program. I was amazed by every single aspect from the level of training that went into it to all the different presentations we gave and received at clubs both before and after. The generosity of Rotary to offer this level of professional development to non-members astounded me.

Not long after, with all these experiences still fresh in my mind, I received an invitation from the Rotary club that hosted my exchange to join their club. The decision was easy – I wanted to give back in any way I could. But in reality, I have always received as much as I have given or more.

I later had a chance to get involved with another club that spun off of that club as charter secretary and eventually president. I now serve the Rotary Club of Deonar in District 3141 as director of public relations working together with club leaders, something I truly enjoy. I write on a variety of topics and maintain a monthly blog that keeps our community and members informed.

I have also had the good fortune to visit RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, and meet the amazing people who provide support to clubs and districts.

What has kept me in Rotary these many years is the level of engagement that I am able to have with like-minded people who enable me to take part in truly amazing projects. I completely agree with RI President Shekhar Mehta, who has said that the rent we pay to stay on planet earth is the service we provide to our community. I am a Rotary member for life because of the opportunity it provides me to continue impacting the world in meaningful, fun, and engaging ways.

What about you? What inspired you to join and what is keeping you in Rotary? I’d like to hear your story in the comments section below.

11 thoughts on “From GSE to leadership, my journey into Rotary

  1. By Rtn. Narinder Barwal
    R I Dist.3170

    I heard about Rotary but not aware about the Rotary services. I was young professional 33 years old in 2004. One of my friend introduced me to R.C. Hubli in 2004. As I was busy with my upcoming profession. I used to attend only family meetings . Because of family get together I made some good family friends. We used to visit their houses.
    Till 2010 I was just a member. In 2010 one of my family member got some health problems and I got great support through my members.
    After that I realise the meaning of service. I realise that if someone is in need of help how much it value. It changed me from ordinary member to become Rotarian. I approached the next incoming club leader to induct me in Board and he was happy that somebody came voluntarily to serve. In 2011-12 I started as Director and continued next year with Secretary then Vice President then president elect and then President in 2015-16 and received as best president Dist. Award. Continued as Dist. level and Asst. Governor in 2018-19 and adjudged as Best Asst. Governor. Then having interest to support the Literacy . Appointed as Dist. Literacy Committee Chair( DLCC) in 2019-20. After attending ignite Literacy summit in September 2019 and vision of then RIPN Shekhar Mehta Ji to make India 100% Literate by 2025. I realise the importance of Literacy program of Rotary. After successful year continued as DLCC for 2020-21 and achieved all goals set by Dist. 3170 in Literacy program then continued as DLCC for 2021-22.
    Literacy projects have given me chance to attract with all 138 club leaders of Dist.3170 and it helped me to develop my Family life,Professional life and social life. This is the real story and my Journey of Rotary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Nitin for your kind-hearted comments.

      Yes, this is a great forum to inspire others of the power that Rotary as a platform truly carries. Wishing you too a great 2022 ahead!


  2. Before dedicated funding for GSE was abolished as part of Future Vison, my club sponsored a GSE Team to France and numerous individual members on other GSE teams. We also enjoyed visits from GSE teams from across the globe. I can attest to the programs’ effectiveness and life changing benefits gained from each of these encounters. While GSE partnerships can be funded by Districts through their District Designated Funds, the program has been all but eliminated which is a loss to Rotary and the many potential Rotarians who will not have similar opportunities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true Bill. I completely resonate with your thoughts and echo the same thoughts. Rotary must think of re-considering what GSE truly was and post the pandemic…it would be awesome if it gets re-initiated.


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