Simple ideas for creating international connections

Map of international student locations
An international student marks her home country on the map during a picnic organized by the Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

By Randy Bretz, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

If you think there’s not much your local Rotary club can do to foster international relations, think again. I have some ideas for you that are relatively simple and can help establish positive relations not just among individuals but entire countries.

My club is located in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the University of Nebraska. In fact, we have four universities and colleges in Lincoln. Each semester and often during the summer, these institutions host international scholars and students. Typically, people visiting or studying at a local institution are very interested in connecting with people in the community.

Our club is involved in “incidental international relations” in several ways. For example, each fall after the academic year begins, we work with representatives at the campuses in our area and invite international students to participate in a picnic. We cook hot dogs and hamburgers, baked beans and corn on the cob, organize a few activities and games and just enjoy a fun Sunday afternoon at a local park in Lincoln.

One activity is to give each student an ear of corn still in the husk and ask them to prepare it to be boiled for the meal. After all, we ARE known as the “Cornhusker” state. Our members often make friends with some of the students and those friendships last even after the international students have returned home. We’ve shared some videos of picnics on our Youtube channel.

Another activity has been to invite international students to visit our club meetings. Recently, the University of Nebraska has hosted a number of African leaders as part of the U.S. State Department’s Mandela Washington Fellows project. Each year, our club invites the 25 Mandela Fellows to join us for a meeting, and we spread them out at different tables to mingle with our members. Without a doubt, lasting friendships are made which result in ongoing communications between young African leaders and Rotarians willing to offer an idea or suggestion.

Like clubs around the world, our club and District 5650 participate in Rotary Youth Exchange programs. These exchanges have resulted in life-long family like relationships not only for the visiting students, but for the host families on both ends. It’s not at all unusual for us to have visitors to our club from young men and women who were exchange students, returning to visit their Rotary families.

Bob Rauner, who helps coordinate District 5650 Rotary Youth Exchange noted, “One of the best ways to world peace is building international relationships, and Rotary Youth Exchange builds lifelong relationships between countries. It’s amazing how connected former Rotary Youth Exchange students become. The Rotary Youth Exchange students develop an extensive network of connections with students from around the world during their exchanges.”

It’s my hope these simple ideas have sparked a thought in your mind. After all, peace is one of the cornerstones of our mission. If you use one of these ideas, or come up with your own. I’d love to hear about it below.

Take this easy-to-print prospective member flyer and What’s Rotary? wallet card to events in your community so attendees can learn more about Rotary and the benefits of getting involved with our programs and activities.

8 thoughts on “Simple ideas for creating international connections

  1. Greetings. I am Rtn Ruth Mbabazi from Rotary Club of Kabale in the western part of Uganda, District 9214. I am glad to be on this website of Rotary which I have found rich in information. I would like to connect with professionals in cardership posotions to learn further and in the near future become one.


  2. I am Marites Pempeña, Club President of Rotary Club of Meycauayan Northeast, District 3770 in the Philippines. I would like to connect and build relationships with other Rotarians around the world.


    • Hi
      My name is Mohamed arif I am from Rotary club of Ambur Secratery 3231 District I would like to interact with international national clubs for my club development’s


  3. Bravo, I really congratulate you on actual basic steps to foster international cooperation, which could be applied everywhere.
    I will suggest it in my club.
    Cordial Rotarian regards
    Ismail Sadek
    RC Tulln, Austria
    Former District Governor for D1910 Austria & Bosnia Herzegowina 2018/19


  4. We are working to promote peace and peaceful coexistence among the peoples of the world. Thank you for your efforts to spread peace. How do I become a member with you


  5. Greetings. I am Rtn Adeep Mehta, Distt Chair NGSE (New Generation Service Exchange), Distt 3070. Northern India. Any young professionals intending to come here will be welcome. We will have oh stop you till your departure.


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