When I give to Rotary, I get so much more back


Stephanie Witkowski, middle in blue shirt, during her Rotary Youth Exchange in Slovakia. 

By Stephanie Witkowski, Rotary Club of Honolulu Pau Hana

At 28 years old, I decided to become a Rotarian, because Rotary changed my life.

I grew up in a small town in Oregon, USA, and was a young leader in my school. When I was 15 years old, I applied to attend a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event in Rotary’s District 5110 to learn more about myself and what leadership meant to me. During that amazing week-long experience, I learned not only about how to be a better leader for my school and community, but about Rotary itself.  Continue reading

Miles to End Polio: Everyone should be protected from polio

Dave Stumpf during a training ride.

Dave Stumpf during a training ride.

By Dave Stumpf, Rotary staff

On one of my travels for Rotary, I visited our offices in New Delhi, India, in 2002. One image has always stuck with me since – that of a little girl begging on a train platform.

She was clearly afflicted with something terrible, impacting her ability to stand much less walk. My local hosts explained that she likely had polio. Now, I have my own 12-year-old daughter, and to know that she is safe from the scourge of polio, just because she had the good fortune to be born in the United States Continue reading

Financing polio eradication and development in Nigeria

A Canadian Rotarian immunizes a young girl against polio in Katsina, Nigeria. Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux

A Canadian Rotarian immunizes a young girl against polio in Katsina, Nigeria. Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux

By Quentin Wodon, president, Rotary Club of Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., USA

As a lead economist at the World Bank, it has been exciting to see my organization step up to the plate and commit resources to the fight to eradicate polio, as we observe World Polio Day.

While the World Bank is not one of the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the organization does work closely with the GPEI, of which Rotary is a leading partner, as well as country governments to provide financing to help end polio. Continue reading

I thought I’d never walk again

: Nancy Wright Beasley, who wrote The Little Lion, sits on one of the motorcycles used in the stage adaptation of her book during rehearsal at Swift Creek Mill Theatre. Photo by Clement Britt

Nancy Wright Beasley, who wrote The Little Lion, sits on one of the motorcycles used in the stage adaptation of her book during rehearsal at Swift Creek Mill Theatre. Photo by Clement Britt

By Nancy Wright Beasley, a polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Brandermill, Virginia, USA

I thought I’d never walk again, but I did.

I thought I’d never talk about polio either, but I’ve regularly shared my childhood memories of the disease since joining the Rotary Club of Brandermill in 2005. I had been  invited to speak about my first book, Izzy’s Fire. That’s where I first learned about PolioPlus, and decided — that day — to join Rotary International’s fight to eradicate the disease. I often say that I’m the only speaker who gave a speech then never left.

I contracted polio in the summer of 1952, in the middle of one of the worst epidemics in U.S. history. Continue reading

Rotary scholarship worth the ‘calculated risk’

Avenida del Libertador, Buenos Aires

Avenida del Libertador, Buenos Aires

By Christine Cloonan, former Rotary Scholar

I first heard about the Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship during a coffee meeting with a fellow member of a women’s business network now known as Ellevate Network. My life path prior to that had been clear, but not always direct.

My goal was to study to get the best education I could with the ultimate purpose of getting a “good job.” But to the bafflement of my older relatives, landing on that good job took a bit of exploring. My first job was with a law firm, which convinced me not to go to law school. Accepting a one year teaching fellowship, I began a five year teaching career and earned a Master of Spanish at Middlebury College. I then developed an “itch” to go abroad to perfect my language skills and explore new places. Continue reading

3 ingredients that make a Rotarian remarkable

Our neighboring club, Sunyani East, presented exercise books and other supplies to students at Nwawasua school.

Our neighboring club, Sunyani East, presented exercise books and other supplies to students at Nwawasua school in September. Remarkable Rotarians donate time to projects such as this.

Dominic KornuBy Dominic Kornu, Rotary Club of Sunyani Central, Ghana

I first visited the Sunyani Central Rotary club in August of last year as a guest, and was instantly welcomed and integrated into club activities. I knew from the start my relationship with the club was meant to be.

I was immediately encouraged to be part of visits to project sites. My professional skills in information and communication technology were tapped to help design fliers, revamp the club’s website, and teach members about Internet security. It’s been an exciting and challenging year as I grow as a Rotarian. Through it, I’ve come to understand and appreciate three main ingredients that make a Rotarian remarkable: Continue reading

Peace Fellow’s summer: a diplomatic experience

Sarah Sanderson and other embassy interns

Rotary Peace Fellow Sarah Sanderson (second from right) and interns at the U.S. embassy in Mozambique with Ambassador H. Dean Pittman.

161014_sanderson_hshotBy Sarah Sanderson, Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

As a Rotary Peace Fellow, I had been looking forward to my summer applied field experience, which is self-designed by the peace fellow. So I was thrilled when I was accepted for a summer internship position at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique.

The goal of a Department of State internship is to expose interns to a broad picture of how a U.S. embassy works. Because of this, over a ten-week period I was able to rotate through three different departments including: financial management, consular, and public affairs.

Continue reading

Polio survivors say ‘thank you’

Carol Ferguson presents the Collage of Gratitutde

Carol Ferguson, right, presents the Collage of Gratitude to Carol Pandak, Director of PolioPlus for Rotary International.

By Rotary staff

On 9 September, we received a visitor at Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, who reminded us just how important the fight to eradicate polio is.

Every year, fewer and fewer cases of polio are reported, bringing us one-step closer to a polio-free world. Before Rotary launched the PolioPlus program in 1985, some 350,000 people a year were infected with the disease worldwide. Carol Ferguson was one of those people. Continue reading

Miles to End Polio: ready for the challenge

161010_drewBy Courtney Drew, Rotary staff

When I first interviewed to work at Rotary International, I told my future manager I was looking for a place to dig my roots deep; to contribute to the bigger picture, and to feel like I was part of an extended family. That, so far, has exactly been my experience here at Rotary and I am incredibly grateful.

Taking part in El Tour de Tucson as a member of the Miles to End polio team will provide a new level of depth to my roots; and bolster my connection to the Rotary family. Continue reading

How do you create stronger connections in your community?

Michael Bucca

Michael Bucca addresses a club about raising its profile in the community.

By Michael Bucca, president of The Central Ocean Rotary Club of Toms River, New Jersey, USA. 

Rotary clubs are always looking for ideas on how to increase membership and develop meaningful service projects. Sometimes, the answers lie outside our own club or organization.

Partnering with other local charities, or joining a service project already in progress, are excellent ways of furthering our mission of Service Above Self. Look around for organizations that share similar goals as Rotary. Invite someone from their group to come and speak to your club. In doing so, you develop an immediate contact that can be built into a deeper relationship. Continue reading