What do you get when you give to The Rotary Foundation?

Ann Syrett, middle, with Past District Governor Ron Lucas and David Riley, president of the Rotary Club of Newcastle under Lyme

Ann Syrett, middle, with Past District Governor Ron Lucas, who served as her counselor during her scholarship year, and David Riley, president of the Rotary Club of Newcastle-under-Lyme

By Ann Syrett, former Ambassadorial Scholar and member of the Rotary Club Sunrise of Road Town, British Virgin Islands

In April, I paid an emotional visit to the Rotary Club of Newcastle-under-Lyme that had hosted my Ambassadorial Scholarship more than 40 years ago while I attended Keele University in North Staffordshire, England.

As I shared my experiences with them, I reflected upon how much the experience had changed my life. I grew up in Astoria, Oregon, and the cultural differences between small town USA and Keele University were immense. Continue reading

Uppsala equips 9 to pursue peace

2016 Rotary Peace Fellows at Uppsala

The 2016 Class of Rotary Peace Fellows at Uppsala from left Ahmad Mohibbi (USA), Kate Lonergan (USA), Sireh Jabang (Gambia), Nicole Ella (Australia), Clair Maizonnier (Australia/France), Meena Pillai (Australia), Krystal Renschler (Canada). Not pictured Takuya Koimaru (Japan), Ahmed Abdi Wais (Somalia).

By Magnus Elfwendahl, host area coordinator at the Rotary Peace Center in Uppsala and a member of the Rotary Club of Uppsala Carolina, Sweden

I was honored earlier this month to witness the beginning of nine careers in peace building and conflict resolution as the most recent class at the Rotary Peace Center at Uppsala University received their masters degrees.

The memorable event concludes two years of training, study, and practice for these dedicated and bright young professionals. The Rotary Peace Fellows joined 30 other students at a graduation ceremony in the town’s medieval cathedral attended by friends, relatives, host families, and members of the local Rotary clubs. Continue reading

The day Rotarians saved my exchange

Geddes and the GSE team in Colombia

Ian Geddes (back row fifth from left), members of the exchange team, and their Colombian hosts.

By Ian W. Geddes, past governor of District 1020 (Scotland)

I have many Rotary stories to tell, but this one happened in Colombia. I was chosen by my district to lead a Group Study Exchange team to Bogota. As a Spanish teacher in Scotland, my dream had long been to travel to South America. Having been chosen as leader and then having negotiated a sabbatical from my school, my team and I finally set off for Colombia.

One week into the trip, the day after we had visited the fabled El Dorado, I fell ill. At first I thought it was just altitude sickness as we traveled along the Andes at 11,000 feet above sea-level. But no, it turned out to be appendicitis. Continue reading

Want members? Then get social!

160609_getsocialBy Evan Burrell, a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia

Did you know more than a billion people use social media every day?

Social media is readily accessible, instantaneous, cost effective and user friendly. It offers your Rotary club a fantastic opportunity to communicate more effectively with members and supporters and can energise the way you promote your club and find new members.

Here are just a few examples of ways your club can use social media: Continue reading

Rotary Youth Exchange has touched my entire family

Linda Mulhern, daughter, and Chile Exchange Student

The author, far right, and her daughter with a former Rotary Youth Exchange student from Chile.

By Linda Mulhern, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

When you become a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you never imagine how it might affect you in the long term. In my case, my exchange has connected my family in more ways than one.

As a Youth Exchange student to Sweden in 1979-80, I learned a lot about what I was capable of doing on my own, my strengths and weaknesses, and what it took to overcome obstacles. I had an incredible year in Sweden, and still speak Swedish fluently. I have contacts with many friends and communicate regularly with my host parents and host sisters. Continue reading

Saving mothers and children in Uganda

Drexel team in Uganda

The author, third from right, during the Drexel team’s visit to Uganda.

By Ronald Smith, past governor of District 7430 (Pennsylvania, USA) and a member of the Rotary Club of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

I began planning a vocational training team with my son Ryan in 2006, when he was still a medical student at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, USA, with an interest in doing a rotation in Africa. My previous experience with Rotary grants, and my friendship with fellow district governor Francis Tusibira “Tusu” of District 9200 (east Africa),” inspired me to form a team. Continue reading

16 ideas for breathing life into your club

Participants in the summit draw their ideas on paper.

Participants in the summit draw their ideas on paper.

By Anabella Q. Bonfa, District 5320 membership chair

How do you breathe new life into your Rotary club? We held a young professional summit recently in southern California, USA, attended by 52 members of Rotary and Rotaract — some new and some with many years of experience — who came together for half a day to share their thoughts. Everyone had fun, and many creative ideas surfaced. Here are just a few:

Plan events that are family-friendly to engage members with young children. Continue reading

Building a better tomorrow for youth of Kenya

Class beside new bathrooms

The author with Kenyan students and their teacher in front of the new bathrooms provided by Rotary.

By Sarah Rolfing

No matter how many times I visit the slum in Nairobi or the poverty-stricken schools in the outskirts of the city, I’m not prepared for the feeling of despair that follows. Basic human rights, such as educational opportunity and access to healthcare, are constantly upended by poverty in many regions of Kenya. Children are often the most vulnerable, and the impact on education and the advancement of society is significant.

Lack of resources should not compromise the right to education, particularly in a society that has considerable disparities in wealth. Since 2013, the Rotary Club of Sumner, Washington, USA, has partnered with low-income schools in Southern Kenya to provide bathroom facilities for students with special needs. Lack of basic sanitation at schools across the region is common, negatively impacting health, hygiene, and attendance. Poor health makes education an afterthought, and Rotary’s investment in creating healthy environments for students in Kenya is impacting thousands on a daily basis. Continue reading

Scholarship program is Rotary alum’s way of giving back

Keyla with diploma

Keyla receives her diploma through the program.

By Richard Hartwig, Rotary Club of Kingsville, Texas, USA

One day in 1964, during my junior year at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA, I was approached by Professor Frank Klingberg, who asked if I would like to be nominated for a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship (the predecessor of today’s global grant scholarships.) Two years later, I was off to Argentina, arriving just after a military coup, which was excellent training for a budding political scientist.

I owe much of my career as a political science professor to Rotary. The last few years, I have had a chance to give back as international services director for our Rotary Club.  One of our two international projects is a scholarship program for poor students in Mexico. Continue reading

What does a Rotary club designed by younger members look like?

Members of the Rotary Club of Metro Savannah

The leadership team of the Rotary Club of Metro Savannah with the author (seventh from left in white shirt).

By Gordon Matthews, past governor of District 6920 (Georgia, USA), Rotary Club of Savannah East

A panel of three young members spelled out for us the issues that block young people from joining Rotary during our spring assembly a few years ago — scheduling, cost of dues, and rules.

I’ve been active in developing leaders in our community and have worked with our Group Study Exchange teams in the past, so I know the energy and potential in this “under 40” generation that we need to tap for Rotary. But I’ve also seen several Rotary clubs try to do this with limited results, because they stayed too close to the traditional model and dues structure. Continue reading