Making peace, one exchange student at a time

Belgian Exchange Student Marcellin Niset in Alaska

Belgian Exchange Student Marcellin Niset in Alaska

By Marcellin Niset, Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Belgium to Alaska

The Italian-American author and actress Vanna Bonta wrote, “There’s no hospitality like understanding.” That quote stuck with me as a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Alaska in 2015-16. I arrived in Alaska, a wilderness filled with beauty and love, determined to make my exchange purposeful and beneficial for myself, my host community, and the world.

An exchange is not only about a student going abroad, it is about all the people that make this exchange possible, and the ones that are impacted, directly and indirectly. Continue reading

Open World Program promotes understanding

Open World program delegation

Rotary members in North Carolina host delegates from Russia in the Open World program.

By Greg Batz, a member of the Rotary Club of White Bear Lake

Twelve years ago, I was invited by a fellow Rotarian from a neighboring Rotary club to chauffer a delegation of Russian judges to the federal court house in Minneapolis for a tour and meetings on a Friday morning. Little did I know how that simple offer to help that day would change my life.

These five judges had been nominated and selected to participate in the Open World Leadership Program and were just finishing their 10 day visit to the United States. The experience I had that day was the beginning of an opportunity to travel to Russia four times and experience a country that most Americans only read about in the news or see on TV. Continue reading

Living a Rotary dream

Desai and his brick

Binish Desai and the brick his company makes from industrial waste.

By Binish Desai, a member of the Rotary Club of Bulsar, India, and a former Rotary Youth Exchange student

India is my Nation
Valsad is my Station
Helping is my Aim
Binish is my Name

I’ll never forget the introduction I used as an exchange student.

This year, I have had the outstanding opportunity of not only meeting other youth exchange students from around the world, but of being recognized by my Rotary community as an outstanding alumnus. My youth exchange took place in 2009-10 almost six years ago, and yet my Rotary experience feels like it’s just beginning. Continue reading

Rotary Youth Exchange tour reunites 25 years later

Rotary Youth Exchange students from 1991 reunite 25 years later.

Rotary Youth Exchange students from 1991 reunite 25 years later.

By Emma Naas, a former Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Sweden

In the summer of 1991, 377 Rotary Youth Exchange students boarded eight buses and journeyed around the American continent for five weeks. Those weeks were for all of us unforgettable, and a fantastic end to our exchange year. The time we spent on those buses was so special, it created an unforgettable bond between us and a wonderful memory. We never thought we would ever meet again. But we were wrong. Continue reading

How to identify your club’s membership problem

Rotary Club of James RIver, Richmond, Virginia

Members of the Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA.

By Richard Cunningham, Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA

My club is a relatively young club (10 years) and does not carry some of the baggage older clubs do, although we certainly have had our problems. The club had dwindled down to just four members at one point before I transferred into it in 2012.

Near the end of 2012, a small team embarked on a structured and planned process of cultural change. Under the umbrella of “Service-Centered Leadership,” we have been able to achieve some amazing results. The club has grown to 24 members and is on its way to stabilizing at 40 active members, at which time we will look to seed another club.

Continue reading

How a Rotary Scholarship to Ireland changed my life

Dave Revsine

Dave Revsine

By Dave Revsine, former Rotary Scholar and studio host for the Big Ten Network, adapted from a presentation to the Rotary Club of Deerfield, Illinois, USA

A year in Ireland as a Rotary Scholar changed my life. It is something I still think about every day. It altered my life trajectory, and allowed me to see the world in a different way.

I was entering my senior year at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and trying to figure out what to do with my life, when a good friend of my dad’s, a professor at Rice University, set up a lunch to talk about my career aspirations. As a history major, I had good grades, was starting an LSAT review course, and figured I’d probably end up going to law school. But I wasn’t excited about it. Continue reading

Where are all the young members?

Evan Burrell and club

Evan Burrell, left, discusses membership with Rotarians in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

By Evan Burrell, a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia

As a former member of Rotaract and now a young Rotarian, I get asked quite a lot, “where do we find more young members like you?”

It may seem like young members are as elusive to catch as Pokémon, but with the right strategy and awareness, it’s not that difficult at all. The truth is, they are really all around us. Continue reading

What defines a Rotary club? You choose

John HewkoBy John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary 

What Rotary has achieved over the past century is remarkable. We were one of the world’s first membership service organizations. Rotary members have made a decisive positive impact in our communities and around the world, from helping to draft the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945, to spearheading the most successful global health partnership in history with the launch of our PolioPlus program in 1985, bringing one of the world’s most feared diseases to the brink of eradication.  Continue reading

How to reach prospective members in the workplace

The Rotary Club of Cayman Island's project team to Guatemala.

The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman’s project team to Guatemala.

By Gina McBryan, a member of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 

We all have our stories of how we were introduced to Rotary, and for the most part, those stories are positive. I could have been a Rotary member much sooner, had someone approached me.

I’m sure every club encourages their members to bring along guests and sponsor new members. For the past five years I have been a Rotary member, I’ve heard the same words of encouragement from my club leaders. And worldwide, our membership totals have remained stable. This makes me think of that line about the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.” Continue reading

Reason to love Rotary: mentoring young leaders

160803_youngleaders

Mentor a young leader, and discover yet another reason to love Rotary.

By Programs for Young Leaders staff

You’re up at 5:30 a.m. for your sunrise meeting. You stay long after the sun goes down to clean up after your club’s event. And, last spring, you raced daylight across twelve time zones to join other Rotarians at a national immunization day. Rotary moments? You’ve got 20. You love everything, from polo shirts to Paul Harris Society pins, except for this mentoring stuff.

For you, youth service has the awkwardness of a school cafeteria, the uncertainty of a drama club trust fall, and the terror of a university quiz on German declension. It’s small wonder you’re first on the list for the highway cleanup, with its predictable neon vests, and last to host an exchange student, advise an Interact club, or mentor Rotaractors. Continue reading