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Afghan students celebrate World Polio Day

Afghan Youth Connect leads an assembly on polio eradication.

By Stephen R. Brown, past Rotary Foundation trustee

During a three-day period encompassing World Polio Day, 24 October, a group of students in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, conducted a polio awareness campaign that was able to reach many of their peers with the message about Rotary’s work to eradicate polio. While many clubs worldwide held activities around World Polio Day, this one was especially exciting to me because these students are part of a program known as Afghan Youth Connect (AYC) which I have been involved with since 2008. Continue reading

Rotary Peace Fellows inspire at special concert

Peace Fellows and Lady Solti

Rotary Peace Fellows with Lady Valerie Solti (third from left) and Orchestra Director Charles Kaye (right) at a special performance of The World Orchestra for Peace.

By Carol Hall, Rotary Foundation Chair for the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper, Oxfordshire, England

I recently had the privilege of hosting two Rotary Peace Fellows from Bradford University – David from The Gambia and Ghenwa from Syria. Ghenwa comes from southern Syria which has not had the destruction, bombing, and killing that has taken place in northern Syria. However, she cannot live in Syria for fear of reprisal or arrest because of her association with Rotary. Continue reading

Bringing the world together through Rotaract

Members of the Rotaract Club of Manila

Members of the Rotaract Club of Manila

By Karla Patricia Ravida, President, Rotaract Club of Manila

Did you know that when you serve others, you stand to gain as well? This observation was noted by American religious leader and author Gordon Hinckley when he wrote “One of the great ironies of life is this – he or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” For the past five years, I have been part of a Rotaract club and I can say I have had a lot of opportunities to live out that statement and grow as a young professional through serving others. Continue reading

Why a Satellite Club was right for me

Satellite Rotary Club of London, Ontario, Canada.

Members of the Rotary Satellite Club of London, Ontario, Canada.

By Heather Macdonald, Rotary Satellite Club of London, Ontario, Canada

I was a recent college grad when I moved to a new city and was looking to join an organization where I could meet people my own age who were at the same stage of life that I was in. My parents are both Rotarians, so Rotary was the first organization that came to mind. But I struggled to find a club where I could fit in. Continue reading

Rotary members don’t turn a blind eye to need

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of reflections on Rotary’s Vision Statement: Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.

Paddy Rooney

Paddy Rooney

By Paddy Rooney, governor of District 7390 (Pennsylvania, USA)

It is said that the greatest problem with adolescents is that they are selective listeners … although I personally believe that the problem is not limited to adolescents! We all hear what we want to hear and choose to ignore those things that we don’t want to hear. We pick and choose from the information offered to us, accepting that which pleases us to hear at the moment and ignoring that which we find uncomfortable. Continue reading

Creating a family-friendly vibe with your Rotary club

The Bonfa family at a food drive

The Bonfa family at a club-sponsored food drive to benefit families in South Orange County, California, USA.

By Anabella Bonfa, Rotary Club of Irvine, California, USA, with Anthony Bonfa

My husband and I and our teenage son Anthony all volunteer at 30 or more projects every year. We consider ourselves a Rotary family. All three of us are hands-on because we come from a smart club that engaged our son in Rotary projects at a young age.

We all enjoy Rotary because it gives us a joint activity where we can spend time together with mutual friends, contribute our individual talents, and create a better world. My club went out of their way to include Anthony from day one. This is how he explains it: Continue reading

Water as an instrument for peace

Rotary Scholars in WCD program

Rotary Scholars from left to right: Nataliya Chemayeva from Turkmenistan, Aminjon Abdulloev from Tajikistan, Jahan Taganova from Turkmenistan, Botir Ismoilov from Uzbekistan, Botagoz Sharipova from Kazakhstan, and Nargiza Osmonova from Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Celeste Noche. © Rotary International. All Rights Reserved.

By Nataliya Chemayeva, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

The Central Asian region has been the focus of global water catastrophes for almost two decades now. No one is indifferent to the problems that we share as a region. There are multiple layers to the problem that have transformed political discourse within the countries and have affected relationships between water experts.

All of this personally was ambiguous to me until I started working for the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. In my commission, we deal mostly with environmental issues and have some exposure to water-related events. This is what sparked my interest in the topic. I soon developed an understanding that technical solutions alone were not going to bring about desired results without a balanced diplomacy. Continue reading

Water and peace in the Aral Sea basin

The video (above) by Botagoz Sharipova, Nataliya Chemayeva, and other Rotary Scholars in the Water Cooperation and Diplomacy program has been selected as finalist by the Geneva Water Hub and will be featured at the Budapest Water Summit 15-17 October and during Geneva Peace Week 4-8 November.

By Botagoz Sharipova, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

Every living being and every local economy depends on water. In my country Kazakhstan, the source of our water comes from seven major rivers that we share with our neighbors. Six of those originate in other countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia. In Central Asia, access to water and conflict resolution are closely intertwined. Continue reading

Returning home again: How Rotary Youth Exchange builds resilience

Julia and host father

Julia Chalifoux (right), a member of her host family (center), and a fellow Rotary Youth Exchange student at the Big Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan, in 1997.

By Julia Chalifoux, former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Japan

In 1997, at 17 years old, I spent a year living and learning in Tokyo, Japan, as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.

Thanks to Rotary International, my time in Japan afforded me the opportunity to open my heart, mind, and eyes to a new language, land, and culture; all of this has had a profound and subtle impact and influence on the woman I am today.

In the months leading up to my exchange, I prepared myself for a year abroad, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the post-exchange experience – how returning ‘home’ again to my country of origin would also have an impact. Continue reading

Better together: the beauty of Rotaract twin clubs

Twin club service project

The Rotaract clubs of Chinatown-Manila, Philippines, and Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan, take part in a shared service project.

By Julie Chu, charter member of the Rotaract Club of Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan

We still joke about how the story of our two clubs is like a love story, with a happily-ever-after ending. The parents met and liked the idea for the children to meet, the children started dating, and the two families decided to join forces in doing good. Continue reading